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w is a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to

regulate behavior.[2] It has been defined both as "the Science of Justice" and "the Art of
Justice".[3][4] Law is a system that regulates and ensures that individuals or a community adhere to
the will of the state. State-enforced laws can be made by a collective legislature or by a single
legislator, resulting in statutes, by the executive through decreesand regulations, or established by
judges through precedent, normally in common lawjurisdictions. Private individuals can create legally
binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that may elect to accept alternative arbitration to
the normal court process. The formation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution,
written or tacit, and the rights encoded therein. The law
shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations
between people.
A general distinction can be made between (a) civil law jurisdictions, in which a legislature or other
central body codifies and consolidates their laws, and (b) common law systems, where judge-
made precedent is accepted as binding law. Historically, religious laws played a significant role even
in settling of secular matters, and is still used in some religious communities. Islamic Sharia law is
the world's most widely used religious law, and is used as the primary legal system in some
countries, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia.[5]
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 the guilty party may be imprisoned or
fined. Civil law (not to be confused with civil law jurisdictions above) deals with the resolution
of lawsuits (disputes) between individuals and/or organizations.[6]
Law provides a source of scholarly inquiry into legal history, philosophy, economic
analysisand sociology. Law also raises important and complex issues concerning equality, fairness,
and justice.

Contents

 1Definition
o 1.1Mainstream definitions
o 1.2Whether it is possible or desirable to define law
 2History
 3Legal theory
o 3.1Philosophy
o 3.2Positive law and non-positive law discussions
o 3.3Economic analysis
o 3.4Sociology
 4Legal methods
 5Legal systems
o 5.1Civil law
o 5.2Common law and equity
o 5.3Religious law
 5.3.1Sharia law
 6Legal institutions
o 6.1Judiciary
o 6.2Legislature
o 6.3Executive
o 6.4Military and police
o 6.5Bureaucracy
o 6.6Legal profession
o 6.7Civil society
 7Legal subjects
o 7.1International law
o 7.2Constitutional and administrative law
o 7.3Criminal law
o 7.4Contract law
o 7.5Tort law
o 7.6Property law
o 7.7Equity and trusts
o 7.8Further disciplines
 8See also
 9Notes
 10References
 11External links

Definition[edit]
Main articles: Definition of law and Analytical jurisprudence

Mainstream definitions[edit]
Numerous definitions of law have been put forward over the centuries. The Third New International
Dictionary from Merriam-Webster[7] defines law as: "Law is a binding custom or practice of a
community; a rule or mode of conduct or action that is prescribed or formally recognized as binding
by a supreme controlling authority or is made obligatory by a sanction (as an edict, decree, rescript,
order, ordinance, statute, resolution, rule, judicial decision, or usage) made, recognized, or enforced
by the controlling authority."
The Dictionary of the History of Ideas published by Scribner's in 1973 defined the concept of law
accordingly as: "A legal system is the most explicit, institutionalized, and complex mode of regulating
human conduct. At the same time, it plays only one part in the congeries of rules which influence
behavior, for social and moral rules of a less institutionalized kind are also of great importance."[8]

Whether it is possible or desirable to define law[edit]


There have been several attempts to produce "a universally acceptable definition of law". In 1972,
one source indicated that no such definition could be produced.[9] McCoubrey and White said that the
question "what is law?" has no simple answer.[10] Glanville Williams said that the meaning of the word
"law" depends on the context in which that word is used. He said that, for example, "early customary
law" and "municipal law" were contexts where the word "law" had two different and irreconcilable
meanings.[11] Thurman Arnold said that