Law is a system of rules that governs what people can and cannot do. These rules can be made by the government, or by private individuals and organisations. They are enforced by the courts and protect basic rights, such as equality or freedom.
Law consists of four main areas: regulation, contract and property, labour law, criminal law and civil procedure. Each of these has its own purpose and functions, and is related to each other.
Regulation focuses on how the government and society manages things such as energy, gas, telecomms and water. It also aims to reduce pollution and protect the environment.
Contract and property relates to the legal system that governs the ownership and use of land, including real estate (land and buildings) and personal property such as computers, cars, jewellery and intangible assets like stocks and shares. Company law, trusts and commercial law all relate to property laws.
Civil law concerns the rules that settle disputes between individuals, which is why it is sometimes called private law. It can involve cases such as backing into someone else’s fence, or a dispute between two companies over a piece of land.
Religious law reflects religious precepts, such as the Quran. It is mainly a body of legal jurisprudence and is interpreted by Qiyas (reasoning by analogy), Ijma (consensus) and precedent.
Civil law is a primarily legislative system with room for the judiciary to adjust rules as the needs of society change. It is usually arranged in codes that are accessible and simple to citizens, and can be used as an effective tool for resolving conflicts.