Human nature needs governance to keep within the limits of morality and custom. As with everything else in the world there are rules that guide us in our behavior towards other people and the society in general. These rules are made by the government to control our actions. These collective set of rules is called the ‘law’. Since the dawn of mankind, rules have been enforced upon people to maintain a social and moral balance. What would a country without law be like? It would be nothing but chaos and destruction. Imagine if there were no laws for driving, theft and murder. Imagine if there were no laws for buying and selling or no contracts for property deals.
This is a scenario without any laws imposed on a society. Disagreements and crime happens even in our society which is bound by strict laws and people are aware of the consequences if they break the law. Conflicts arise and wrongdoings happen; this is a natural process in which things happens. But then we have the law to guide us and protect us from any injustice. Laws not only administer our conduct but also carry out social obligations in the right way.
The symbol of law or justice is the ‘Lady Justice’ who is a goddess carrying three main objects in her hands. The first is a sword that represents the court’s strength. In both the hands the goddess is holding scales that symbolize the impartiality by which the claims are evaluated. The Lady Justice is blindfolded depicting that justice is unbiased to race, identity, money, power and class.
Law can be divided into two basic categories; Public and private law also called the civil law. Public law is concerned with the whole society and holds the criminal, administrative and constitutional law under its domain. Private or civil law deals with individuals and organizational disputes. Several kinds of law are included under civil law such as contract, property, trust and tort law. It is then subcategorized into Criminal and Civil law which then have further divisions. Criminal law deals with crimes that affect the society as whole whereas civil law is concerned with the relationships between people. Civil law includes in its domain contract law, property law, tort law, administration law, international law and constitutional law.
Contract law is for any transaction that takes place between two people. Property law looks over the real estate or real property deals between individuals or organizations. Tort law is about any compensation cases such as vehicle accidents, product liability, copyright issues, negligence, injury and damage. Statutory Torts include consumer protection, nuisance and defamation. Constitutional laws are those laws that regulate the political process and the law making bodies. International law refers to three types of law namely ‘public international law’, ‘private international law’ and ‘law of supranational organizations’.
There are two kinds of legal systems; civil law and common law or equity. There is also a third kind of legal system which is considered foremost when making laws in many countries. This is the ‘religious law’ and includes the Islamic law, Jewish law and Canon law. The Jewish ‘Halakha’ and the Islamic ‘Shariat’ both of which mean ‘a path to follow’, are used by the concerned authorities to create the law. The concept behind this is that the word of God cannot be altered or amended by anyone. This law is based on the Book of God or scriptures.
Law has a very old historical connection to the ancient Egyptian civilization that dates back to 3000 BC. They had a civil code which was divided into twelve books. In the 22nd century Ur-Nummu, who was an ancient Sumerian ruler devised a law code containing ‘if, then’ statements. Then in 1760, King Hammurabi worked hard to further develop the Babylonian law . He inscribed it in stone and placed it all across the kingdom of Babylon so the whole public could see it freely. It became to be known as ‘Codex Hammurabi’ and it was first found by British ‘Assyriologists’ in the nineteenth century. Another set of laws is the ‘Old Testament’ which was first made in 1280 BC. It contained morals and rules to be followed by a society in order to be referred to as a ‘good’ society.
The Ancient Greek civilization paved way for the progress of democracy although they never used the term ‘law’. The Roman civilization developed laws that were made by professional legal personnel. They even adapted their laws according to the varying social scenarios of the time. India and China had independent schools of thought and embodied distinctive law traditions. Religious law played a significant role in Indian law as they used the ‘Arthashastra’ and the ‘Manusmriti’ as their initial basic treatise. In almost all Muslim countries the Islamic Shariat Law has a major influence on their constitutional laws.
Even though laws are made by the government, constitutional and administrative laws bind it to follow the right track. In order to make a law immense knowledge of legal history, economics, philosophy and sociology is required. In a country with a presidential democracy, there are three main branches of a government that create and interpret the law. These are an independent judiciary, an elected legislature and an answerable executive. In a parliamentary system however the legislature is supreme and a prime minister is appointed by it. The judiciary is beneath the parliament.