Law, or the study of law, is about systems of laws and how they work. It is a field which has many different sub-fields of study, but the main areas are:
The four main purposes of law are to establish standards, maintain order, resolve disputes and protect liberties and rights. Laws can be either descriptive or normative (that is they tell us how we ought to behave).
Descriptive laws give results that are consistent with experience and reason – for example, the law of gravity. The law of gravity is not a theory, it is a consistent observation that has led to the conclusion that anything thrown up into the air unsuspended will come down.
Other examples of laws are the rules for driving and parking cars, or a court’s policy on which evidence to accept in a case. These laws are called common law. In contrast, statutes enacted through the legislative process are known as civil law. In general, in legal matters that are based on common law, courts follow the opinions of previous cases (known as precedent) to guide them when settling similar disputes. Occasionally, a judge will depart from precedent by issuing a decision in a new case that raises novel issues. This is called a case of first impression and may lead to future cases being decided differently.
Other fields of law include labour laws which cover the tripartite industrial relationship between employer, worker and trade union; family law covering marriage and divorce proceedings; and transactional law which covers business, money and property.