The Oxford Dictionary of Law


Law is the system of rules that a society or country recognizes as regulating the conduct of its members. It is enforced by a controlling authority, usually a government.

Law defines the rights and duties of people toward tangible property (real estate and their possessions) and intangible property (bank accounts, stock shares). It covers areas including contract, civil procedure, criminal law, family law, and tort law.

Definition of Law:

A rule of conduct developed by a government or society on a particular area, such as crime, trade, social relations, property, and finance. It follows certain practices and customs, and is enforced by a governing authority.

Some lawyers believe that law incorporates morality, and others argue that it does not. Utilitarian theory dominated the field until the 20th century, with Jeremy Bentham being one of the most prominent advocates.

Natural law is another approach, which argues that law reflects essentially moral and unchangeable laws of nature. It has been influenced by the work of Thomas Aquinas, and is now widely accepted in Western culture.

The Oxford Dictionary of Law offers concise definitions and detailed, in-depth coverage across this broad discipline. It features authoritative, accessible information on key terms and concepts in the UK, US, and Australia–from criminal law, tax and social security law, and human rights law, to international law, family and employment law, and major debates in legal theory.

In addition to its core subject matter, the study of law includes a number of related topics, such as legal training and an overview of the relationship between law and other political structures. It also involves an examination of the relationships between law and other fields, including psychology, sociology, economics, history, and philosophy.

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