Law provides a rich source of scholarly inquiry into legal history, philosophy, economic analysis and sociology. Law also raises important and complex issues concerning equality, fairness, and justice, as well as the proposition that all are equal before the law.
Laws can be made by legislatures through legislation (resulting in statutes), the executive through decrees and regulations, or judges through binding precedents (normally in common law jurisdictions). Private individuals can create legally binding contracts, including (in some jurisdictions) arbitration agreements that exclude the normal court process. The formation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution (written or unwritten) and the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics,economics, and society in various ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people.
A general distinction can be made between civil law jurisdictions (includingcanon and socialist law), in which the legislature or other central body codifies and consolidates their laws, and common law systems, where judge-made binding precedents are accepted. Historically, religious lawsplayed a significant role even in settling of secular matters, which is still the case in some countries, particularly Islamic, and some religious communities, particularly Jewish Halakha. Sharia law is the world's most widely used religious law.
The adjudication of the law is generally divided into two main areas.Criminal law deals with conduct that is considered harmful to social orderand in which the guilty party may be imprisoned or fined. Civil law (not to be confused with civil law jurisdictions above) deals with the resolution oflawsuits (disputes) between individuals or organizations. These resolutions seek to provide a legal remedy (often monetary damages) to the winning litigant.
Under civil law, the following specialties, among others, exist: Contract lawregulates everything from buying a bus ticket to trading on derivatives markets. Property law regulates the transfer and title of personal propertyand real property. Trust law applies to assets held for investment and financial security. Tort law allows claims for compensation if a person's property is harmed. Constitutional law provides a framework for the creation of law, the protection of human rights and the election of political representatives. Administrative law is used to review the decisions of government agencies. International law governs affairs between sovereign states in activities ranging from trade to military action.