The Importance of Law


Law is a body of norms promulgated by an authority that people accept and respect as binding on them, providing them with guidance in their daily lives, a framework for their expectations, and a means to settle disputes with others. It also provides a set of mechanisms for preventing corruption and other abuses of power. Those who believe in the Rule of Law see the law as central to a good society and an essential ingredient of democracy.

Law can be broadly characterized as public and private. Civil law, for example, deals with legal matters between individuals, such as contract law and tort law (accidents and defamation). Criminal law, on the other hand, addresses offenses against the community: terrorism, kidnapping, murder and more.

The law should be accessible to everyone, in two senses of the word. First, it should be epistemically accessible: people should be able to study the law and figure out what it requires of them and what they should expect of other people. Second, the law should be institutionally accessible: the processes by which the law is adopted, administered, adjudicated and enforced should be transparent and readily available to people.

Law is a complex and constantly evolving field, but there are four universal principles that all law systems should embody. These are: the Rule of Law; a just legal system; open government; and equality before the law.

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