Originally, law was defined as a system of rules enforceable by governmental and social institutions. However, the term has been variously interpreted and can also mean a person, a system, or a phenomenon.
The term law is most often used to refer to the legal system of a nation. It is a political system that shapes the history, economics, and social relationships of a society. It can serve as a protective shield against majorities, preserving individual rights, and providing orderly social change.
There are three main types of legal systems: civil law, common law, and international law. Each of these systems has different characteristics and serve different purposes. Typically, a civil law system is shorter and requires less detailed judicial decisions. A common law system is longer, requires more extensive judicial decisions, and is explicitly acknowledged as “law.” International law is a more complex system that is composed of several sub-systems.
A common law system is based on a doctrine of precedent. This means that decisions by one court bind subsequent decisions by other courts. Common law systems also require that courts explicitly acknowledge decisions by the executive branch.
International law is often referred to as public international law. It covers issues such as human rights, international humanitarian law, and international environmental law. It also refers to the conflict of laws that exists between countries. It also refers to the law of supranational organizations. The International Court of Justice is the primary dispute settlement organ of the United Nations.