Law is a system of rules and standards that are enforced by society or by the state. Laws regulate a variety of areas including contracts, property, crimes and civil rights. There are many types of laws and they vary greatly from place to place. Some common laws include contract law (which outlines agreements to exchange goods or services), employment law (which regulates the relationship between an employee and employer) and evidence law (which determines what materials can be used in court cases).
Aside from being a tool for regulation, the law can also act as a moral standard and reflect religious beliefs. For example, the Jewish Halakha, Islamic Sharia and Christian canon law are all based on religious precepts. While such laws are not usually subject to change, it is up to individuals to apply them in their daily lives.
From a philosophical standpoint, law has some unusual characteristics that make it distinct from other sciences and disciplines. First, it comprises normative statements that dictate how people ought to behave, rather than descriptive or causal ones (as in the law of gravity). This means that laws cannot be proven as they are based on the shape of reality and human limitations; they can only be bets on expected outcomes.
Furthermore, unlike other sciences and disciplines, there are no mechanisms that enable us to check the correctness of authoritative statements in the field of law (be they comprised of judicial opinions or scholarly literature). This is because the content of laws does not lend itself to empirical verification and the judging of its precepts must rely on the subjective whims of individual judges.
A judicial system that is independent and transparent is essential to the function of any democracy, since this allows citizens to assess the legal quality of their government. The judicial system should provide the freedoms of expression, association and assembly; guarantee the security and privacy of persons; and be accessible to all citizens regardless of social class or wealth.
Finally, an important feature of a well-functioning judicial system is the fact that its rules are regularly reviewed and adjusted to keep up with social change. This is known as a “living constitution” and is an example of how a legal system can adapt to meet the needs of a society over time. A statutory system that provides clear expression of rights and duties, advance disclosure of rules, silence in the code to be filled with creative jurisprudence, and a richly developed and to some extent transnational academic doctrine inspiring both legislatures and judiciaries are desirable attributes of a good law. A reformed legal system should be capable of responding to the changing needs of modern societies in an effective and economical manner. It should ensure that the poor are not disadvantaged in terms of access to justice, while at the same time protecting the property of the wealthy. It should also be free of political interference and corruption.