The Law is a system of rules created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It has been variously described as a science and an art. Law shapes politics, economics, history and society in numerous ways. Law may be state-enforced, as in civil law jurisdictions where laws are enacted by a legislature and consolidated into a body of law known as statutes, or private-sector enforced, as in common law countries where judicial precedent is accepted as binding law. Laws can also be imposed by religious institutions, such as Islamic Shari’a law, and can be used to define and shape human rights.
A law is a rule that establishes standards, maintains order, resolves disputes and protects liberties and rights. Laws can be written or unwritten, formal or informal, real or imaginary, sanctioned or unsanctioned, harmonious or antagonistic, true or false. However, for a law to be considered a law it must be consistent with reality: if something happens once, it will happen again, and that consistency is the essence of a law.
Legal terms and concepts include arraignment – the act of telling a person accused of a crime about the charges against him or her in court; circumstantial evidence – all evidence that is not direct proof of the fact or issues involved in a case, such as eyewitness testimony; chief judge – the judge who has primary responsibility for the administration of a court (including managing the flow of cases through the court and maintaining court records); and case law – the use of prior court decisions to determine how other law should be applied in a specific situation. For example, the decision of a district court that has the power to review its decisions is case law for all lower courts that have the same authority to review.