The Definition of Law

Law is a body of rules set and enforced by government institutions that regulate behaviour. The precise definition of law is a matter of ongoing debate, but it usually incorporates morality and is enforceable through the threat of sanctions. The law may govern any activity, from buying a bus ticket to trading options on a derivatives market. It is also often applied to specific groups, such as the family, the workplace, or the community.

Legal systems differ in their approach to defining the law, with some adopting more utilitarian approaches. John Austin, for example, defined law as “commands backed by the threat of sanction issued by a sovereign to whom men have a habit of obedience.” Other schools of thought, such as that of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, argue that the laws are inscribed in human nature and reflect innate principles.

A well-functioning legal system requires that the law is clearly expressed, publicly available and easily accessible. It must also be stable and predictable, and it should guarantee core human, property and procedural rights. The rule of law should protect against anarchy and the Hobbesian war of all against all, and it must be possible for people to plan their affairs with reasonable confidence that they can rely on the law to provide clear rules and standards for them to follow. The rule of law should also ensure that the public is able to collaborate with the government on decisions that affect them, and that citizens can hold the government accountable for its actions.

Posted in: Gambling