Law is a set of rules created and enforceable by social or governmental institutions that regulate behavior. Its precise definition has been a subject of longstanding debate, and it has been described as both a science and an art. It is widely viewed as the primary instrument of government for regulating human activities and relationships, including both public and private ones. It is also a system of justice that guarantees the rights and liberties of citizens.
The term “law” is often used to describe the legal field, but it can be applied to any field that has a rule set or a code of conduct for its participants. For example, a law can be found in physics that states that two objects will fall together at the same rate if they are not moving and have the same mass and the same center of gravity. This is a scientific law that has been observed through observation and confirmed through mathematical calculations by scientists. The same principle can be applied to other fields, such as business, where laws are made by a board of directors or a court of law.
In the political and social context, a law is a binding rule established by a sovereign power. It is a rule that can be enforced by the state or its agents through sanction or punishment, and it is designed to protect the interests of the citizenry as well as its territorial integrity. A law may be a statute, code, or treaty. It may be enacted by a legislature or imposed through executive orders. It is often defined by the process through which it was enacted, such as whether it has been published in the official government gazette or not.
While there are many theories of the function of a law, most share the insight that it must be oriented towards the individual citizen as its primary unit of concern. This is reflected in the legal doctrine of rights, which encompasses four Hohfeldian positions: privilege-rights, power-rights, immunities-rights, and claim-rights.
Privilege-rights and power-rights define what the right-holders can do (privilege-rights) or must do (power-rights), respectively. Immunities-rights and claim-rights define what the right-holders ought to do (claim-rights) or cannot do (immunity-rights).
The most common form of a law is a statute or other legislative document, which has undergone the lengthy process of considering by Parliament’s National Assembly and National Council of Provinces, debate in both chambers, a legal review, and the President’s assent or veto. If the President’s veto is overridden by both chambers, the legislation becomes an Act of Parliament and a law. Other types of laws are executive orders, regulatory decisions, court judgments, and legal precedent. Scientific laws are indisputable facts that have been discovered through observation and experimentation and can be tested by future scientific research, while legal and administrative laws must meet certain criteria, including being clear, publicized, stable, and evenly applied. In addition, they must ensure that the people have access to and can understand them.