Law is the study of a system of rules that a particular country or community recognizes as regulating its actions. These rules are then enforced through a controlling authority, such as a government or court.
A wide range of subjects fall under the broad term ‘law’, including criminal law, property law, labour law and consumer law. These areas are often separated, but overlap and intertwine in many ways.
Constitutional law relates to the laws that establish the legal framework for a country. It includes issues such as the right to privacy and freedom of expression, as well as the right to be safe from racial discrimination.
Commercial law deals with business transactions, including contracts and company ownership. It also encompasses areas like antitrust law, which regulates the behaviour of businesses, and environmental law, which aims to protect natural resources.
Industrial law focuses on the relationship between an employer and its employees, as well as trade unions. This includes collective bargaining and the right to strike.
Employment law consists of regulations on things like the minimum wage and rights to a decent work environment. It also deals with rights to leave the workplace if an employee is pregnant or has children.
Regulation of public services such as energy, gas and water is a major area of legal concern. The regulations are designed to protect consumers from overpriced goods, monopolies and the misuse of power by large companies.
Competition law is an evolving field that traces back to Roman decrees against price fixing and the English restraint of trade doctrine. It is used to prevent companies from exploiting their market position, by distorting prices or limiting competition, and has a strong international presence.
Civil procedure and criminal procedure deal with the way courts operate, deciding whether to try cases or accept them as appeals. These processes are important to a citizen’s right to be heard and to have a fair trial, as well as to the integrity of a justice system.
Evidence law is a subset of law that concerns what materials can be used to prove or disprove a claim, such as witness testimony and transcripts. This can include statements made by witnesses in trials, or evidence that is heard before a grand jury.
Jurisprudence – the study of law and its structure, involving lawyers, judges and other members of the court. This is particularly important in a common law system where decisions of the court are generally acknowledged as ‘law’ on equal footing with statutory or regulatory provisions passed through legislative procedures, and can be considered a key factor in determining the outcomes of subsequent similar cases.
Lawyers are people who specialise in a particular area of law and are paid to represent clients before court. They also act as consultants to judges on specific legal questions and advise them about the facts of the case, as well as giving opinions in court.
Judges are people who have been selected from a pool of potential jurors to hear cases in a courtroom. They are responsible for ensuring that everyone is represented, and that there are no unfair prejudices against any party.