Types of Law

Law is the body of rules that a society or group establishes to regulate behavior. These rules can be enforced through a controlling authority or through private action. Government-enforced laws are made by a legislature, resulting in statutes; by the executive, resulting in decrees and regulations; or through the judicial system, resulting in court decisions that are binding on future courts (called stare decisis). Private actions can also be legally binding under contract law, which applies to agreements between private individuals.

The most common types of law are property, criminal, family and constitutional. Property law covers ownership of real and personal property, including mortgages, leases, covenants, easements and statutory systems for land registration. Criminal law covers the rights of persons, such as their right to due process and not to be tortured, and the punishments that may be imposed if they break the law. Constitutional law is the set of fundamental principles that govern a nation-state or community. This includes the rights of citizens to vote and freedom of expression, as well as the limits on the power of governments.

Other areas of law are banking law, financial regulation and the law on intellectual property. Public services and utilities, such as energy, water and telecommunications, are regulated by public law. Environmental law is a growing area, and biolaw is the intersection of law and the life sciences.