The law is a set of socially accepted guidelines or standards for human behaviour that is enforced by governmental authorities to prevent societal discord. It can be defined as “a rule or principle governing some area of activity, or the manner in which something is done” or “a standard or pattern of behaviour established by the authority of society or government”. The precise meaning of law varies considerably across societies and cultures.
A statutory or regulatory requirement, code, order, ordinance, regulation, rule, reporting or licensing requirement or any other similar federal, national, supranational, state, provincial, territorial or local law or statute, including common law.
The concept of the law is an important and complex one. It can be viewed in many different ways and is often the subject of intense debate. In the end, however, a law is simply whatever is considered by the people in a particular society to be necessary or desirable in the interest of maintaining social order and justice.
Legal scholars have proposed a number of definitions for the law, with some being idealistic and others being more practical in nature. The idealistic definition of the law sees it as a system of rules that governs the activities of a society and is enforced by that society through its governing body. It is the law that establishes a minimum level of acceptable behaviour within a community and which, if not obeyed, will result in sanction or punishment.
More practical interpretations of the law view it as a system of rules that regulates the behaviour of all persons in society and ensures that everyone has access to resources (for example, water) and protection from harm. The laws of the land are generally codified through legislative bodies and enforceable through law enforcement agencies.
Law may also be used to prevent social discord by providing a formal means of settling disputes. This is particularly relevant in societies that have diverse groups of people with different views and values.
There are many different theories of the origins of law. Some believe that it is a product of natural jurisprudence, and derives its force and dignity from the principles of right reason and the views of man’s nature and constitution. Other theorists believe that law is a product of positive jurisprudence, and derives much of its force and dignity from social customs and the edicts of religious scriptures. Still other theorists view that law is an emergent phenomenon, a product of the evolution of social institutions and processes. In this view, the emergence of law is often a result of the competition for resources by different social groups and their need for order. This competition for resources results in the development of a variety of laws and laws change from time to time as social institutions and processes evolve.