For other uses, see Law (disambiguation) and Legal (disambiguation).
"Legal concept" redirects here.
Lady Justice, a symbol of justice. She is depicted as a goddess equipped with three items: a sword, symbolising the coercive power of a court; scales, representing an objective standard by which competing claims are weighed; and a blindfold indicating that justice should be impartial and meted out objectively, without fear or favor and regardless of money, wealth, power or identity.
Law is a term which does not have a universally accepted definition, but one definition is that law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behaviour. Laws can be made by legislatures through legislation (resulting in statutes), the executive through decrees and regulations, or judges through binding precedents (normally in common law jurisdictions). Private individuals can create legally binding contracts, including (in some jurisdictions) arbitration agreements that exclude the normal court process. The formation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution (written or unwritten) and the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics, and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people.
A general distinction can be made between civil law jurisdictions (including canon and socialist law), in which the legislature or other central body codifies and consolidates their laws, and common law systems, where judge-made binding precedents are accepted. Historically, religious laws played a significant role even in settling of secular matters, which is still the case in some countries, particularly Islamic, and some religious communities, particularly Jewish Halakha. Sharia law is the world's most widely used religious law.
The adjudication of the law is generally divided into two main areas. Criminal law deals with conduct that is considered harmful to social order and in which...