The Importance of Law


Law is a set of rules governing human conduct, whether they be enacted by an individual legislator and codified in statutes, imposed by the executive through decrees and regulations or established by judges through precedent (the Latin “stare decisis”). Law shapes politics, economics, history and culture, and provides a structure that enables society to function effectively.

A central principle of law is that everyone is equal before the law, and that laws cannot be arbitrarily created or disregarded by those in power. This is known as the rule of law and it is fundamental to democracy. However, the rule of law is prone to deterioration under autocracy, dictatorship and other forms of authoritarian government, if there are no corrective mechanisms to check abuses of power or ensure that laws are applied fairly.

Various fields of law are studied, including administrative, constitutional and criminal law, contract law, family law, labour law, property law and the law of the biosciences. Each field has its own methodology, vocabulary and specialist terminology. For example, the term Esquire is used to denote a barrister of greater dignity and Doctor of Law is an honorific title awarded to those who have obtained a PhD in Law.

Law also governs how a country’s military, police and other bureaucratic apparatus operate. It involves the extension of state power over individuals and communities, and how this is balanced by civil liberties and public accountability. The influence of Max Weber and other sociologists has reshaped thinking on the nature of this power, with modern military and police operations and regulatory authority posing special problems for accountability that earlier writers could not have foreseen.

One of the biggest disadvantages of law is its Complexity. It is not always possible to make laws as simple as people would like, and the law suffers from excessive formalism (a greater emphasis on its form rather than its substance). This can cause delay in dispensing justice.

Another problem is that it is difficult to create a legal system that is fair and transparent, and that is applicable in all circumstances. This can lead to a lack of trust in the law and the judiciary, and it can be easier for those in power to corrupt the system.

Other important factors in the effectiveness of a law include: