Law is the body of rules that people in a particular community recognize as regulating their actions. These are enforced by a controlling authority (such as a court) and are used to ensure a peaceful society.
There are many different kinds of laws, and they often cover a range of different areas such as air and railway travel, tax, consumer protection, bankruptcy, medical law, immigration and family. Each country has its own laws and regulations, which are generally set by a government.
Public law is the kind of laws that affect all citizens of a country or a community. It regulates how people are treated by the police, governments and other people in the community. It can also make people liable for certain things, such as being fined or sent to jail for breaking the law.
Private law is the kind of laws that affect people who own property, such as houses, cars and other belongings. These laws can include mortgages, tenancies and contracts of sale.
The main parts of private law are property, contract, commercial and intellectual property, trusts and company law. The rules that apply to these are called statutes, which are set by governments or a parliament and regulated by the courts.
Rights and duties in public law relate to the rights of citizens to live their lives in a fair and orderly way, including their ability to work, to own property and to be protected from harm. Some of these are guaranteed by the constitution, others are enforceable through law.
International law relates to the relations between countries in other parts of the world, particularly through treaties. It also focuses on issues concerning human activities in outer space and the commercialisation of space products.
Common law systems recognise that decisions by higher courts are “law” on equal footing with statutes and regulations adopted through the legislative process. In these systems, the doctrine of precedent (also known as stare decisis) means that a court decision will normally be followed in future cases with similar facts and legal issues, even if it differs from that earlier decision.
Criminal law involves the prosecution and punishment of people who commit crimes, usually a serious crime like murder. It tries to make sure that people who break the law are punished as severely as possible, and can also help to protect the public from criminals.
A crime is a serious offense against the law that can result in jail time or a large fine, depending on the circumstances of the crime. The penalties can vary by country and are based on the severity of the offence.
The court will decide what is the best punishment for a crime, taking into account the facts of the case and any evidence the defendant has provided. This is done by a trial.
There are a number of ways to challenge a criminal conviction, and one of these is called an appeal. An appeal can be made by the person who was convicted, the government or a third party. Appeals are heard by an appeals court and can change the outcome of the case.