Law is a system of rules that a society develops to deal with crime, business agreements, and social relationships. Its four principal functions are establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes and protecting liberties and rights. It is generally considered to be a necessary component of any democratic government. In unstable countries or where there is dictatorial rule, the absence of a legal system can cause problems.
Law may be made by a legislature, resulting in statutes, or by the executive, resulting in decrees and regulations. It may also be established by judges through precedent, resulting in common law jurisdictions. Religions also provide some law, notably the Jewish Halakha and Islamic Sharia. It is possible for individuals to create legally binding contracts, such as those involving employment and real estate.
Laws are grouped into categories of subject matter, though they often overlap. Some of the most important are criminal law, civil law and procedure, and evidence law. The latter involves which materials are admissible for use in a trial or hearing. There is also administrative law, dealing with the operations of a government agency or department. In addition, the term law may be used to describe a person or organization who has authority, either implicitly or explicitly, to govern or administer something: to give commands and orders; to take the law into one’s own hands. This may be a form of protest against existing law enforcement or legal processes: to “take the law into one’s own hands” is to ignore or avoid the police or courts.