Law is a system of rules and regulations that people or organizations create to regulate their behaviour. It is a part of the social system and is enforced by sanctions (eg fines) for breaching rules. Law also deals with the relationships between people. For example, property law covers the rights people have to land and houses. Copyright law protects artistic works, and intellectual property laws cover inventions and brands such as names. Labour law includes employment and trade unions. Tort law helps people claim compensation if they have been injured or their property has been stolen. Banking law and tax laws cover the regulation of banks and money, and how much we pay in taxes.
Law fulfills many functions in society but it is difficult to define what exactly these are. For example, solving recurrent coordination problems, setting standards for desirable behavior, proclaiming symbolic expressions of communal values, and resolving disputes about facts are important functions of law but have little to do with the coercive aspect of the law and its sanction-imposing powers.
The most popular definition of law comes from Roscoe Pound, who defined it as ‘a means of social control’. Some philosophers have argued that this definition is too narrow because it ignores the fact that the law has coercive aspects, and therefore makes people behave according to its rules. Others, such as Hans Kelsen, have created more pure theories of the law that do not include a normative element but are simply descriptive.