Law is a set of rules created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. Laws can be passed by legislatures, resulting in statutes, enacted by the executive branch in the form of regulations or decrees, or established by courts through the doctrine of precedent, normally under common law jurisdictions. Law can also be created by private individuals in legally binding contracts. It is difficult to give a precise definition of Law because legal systems differ and people have different ideas about what law is. However, a general idea can be conveyed by saying that law consists of a body of rules that governs a society and provides a framework for orderly social change. If a person does not comply with the laws, sanctions can be imposed on them.
There is wide interest in understanding the nature of Law, partly because it is important for many aspects of daily life. It affects such things as contracts, property, and the justice system itself. Laws govern a huge range of activities, from purchasing a bus ticket to trading options on the derivatives market. Laws also play a crucial role in keeping the peace, maintaining social stability and the status quo, protecting minorities from majorities, and meeting human needs, such as satisfying desires for freedom, security, or fairness.
An early approach to the nature of Law emphasized that law is a normative domain like morality, religion, or social conventions. The key point is that law claims to be legitimate authority, which may or may not be justified, but it is an essential feature of the institution of law that it claim legitimacy (Raz 1994). This approach has influenced theories of law in the subsequent years.