The law shapes politics, economics and history in many ways, and regulates people’s everyday life. There is a wide variety of laws around the world, ranging from criminal and administrative to civil and constitutional law. Laws can be enforced by a government, an organisation or a private individual. There are also many different legal systems, including civil law, which relies on codification of statutes, and common law, which relies on judge-made precedent. Other types of law include religious, such as Sharia law, which is used in some countries; and commercial, such as contracts, property and company law.
The exact definition of law is a matter of debate, but it generally refers to a set of rules that are created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to control behavior. These can be made by a collective legislature, resulting in statutes and regulations; or by the executive through decrees and regulation, or by judges, resulting in case law.
Laws help to ensure that society is safe, and that people’s rights are respected. They can settle disputes, such as when two people claim a piece of land, and provide guidelines for the conduct of police, politicians and public officials. A system of laws can also make it easier for businesses to trade with one another, by providing standard forms and rules for agreements. Commercial laws, such as the law of trusts, insurance law and bills of exchange, and property laws such as real estate and land titles are also important areas of law.