The Basics of Law


Law is a system of rules that are enforced through social institutions to govern human behaviour. It shapes politics, economics and history, and serves as a mediator between people.

Laws are established by a collective legislature or a single legislator, creating statutes and regulations; by the executive, through decrees and binding precedent; and by judges through binding cases. They are also created by private individuals, through legal contracts.

1. Definition of Law:

A rule, prescribed by the supreme power of a state to its subjects for regulating their social actions; an imperative, directing what must be done and prohibiting what may not be done; or a permissive, declaring what may be done without incurring penalty. Laws are also referred to as ordinances, decrees or statutes.

2. Municipal/National Law:

This is the law that governs the relationship between a government and its citizens. It consists of laws arising from legislations, customary laws, religious/personal laws, etc.

3. International Law:

This includes international treaties, conventions and agreements, as well as the international laws governing relationships between states and regional organizations. It also includes specialized rules applicable within a particular country or region, such as family and property laws.

4. Criminal Law:

This is a system of laws that prohibits certain forms of wrongdoing, and punishes those who commit them. This type of law is often a result of a group’s desire to protect itself from harmful social-conduct, such as robbing or murdering.

5. Procedural Equality:

The rule of law is a basic principle that ensures that all participants are treated fairly, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. This is a fundamental aspect of any civilized society, and is important for the protection of everyone in the country.

6. Constitutional Character:

The Constitutional character of the law is that it defines the scope of the government. It is written in a way that encourages varying interpretations, and many theories have been developed about how the law should be applied.

7. Treatises:

There are several types of treatises on law. Some are in-depth discussion of an area of law, with references to primary sources, while others provide a general overview. These are usually a good resource to consult when you are unfamiliar with an area of law or need a refresher course in the subject.

8. Dictionary:

A legal dictionary is a multi-volume set that provides definitions of words related to law. These are usually arranged alphabetically by topic, and some include a comprehensive dictionary of terms from a variety of jurisdictions.

9. Indexes:

The Law Library has many indexes that help you find the articles you need, including indexes to United States federal and state laws, and case law. Other indexes focus on specific topics such as law reviews, or general magazines that are useful for leisure reading. To use the indexes, you will need the title of the periodical, volume number, page(s) and author.