Law is the system of rules and regulations developed by a society or government to deal with crime, business agreements, property, social relationships and other issues. Its precise definition is a matter of longstanding debate and has been variously described as a science or an art of justice.
The legal tradition of the West has its roots in Roman, Dutch and British colonialism. Nations that were ruled by these European powers often kept their civil law traditions (e.g., Egypt, Morocco, and some Pacific islands). Civil law includes the body of laws that regulates private matters such as contracts, family affairs, estates, and property. It also includes criminal laws that govern the treatment of crimes like robbery, murder and fraud, and tort laws that provide compensation to individuals who have been harmed by someone else’s actions (e.g., automobile accidents and defamation of character).
One theory of law perceives it as protecting the society’s shared beliefs or social values to which everyone subscribes. This theory assumes that conflict in the society is averted through political debate and policy making. If conflicts arise they are resolved through the legal process of a judicial tribunal.
The jurisprudential theory of law contends that the law is not a set of rules created by determinate authorities. Rather it is the result of the silent growth of custom and the evolution of unformulated public or professional opinion. These sources may include statutes, legislation, judicial precedents, and other formal sources as well as persuasive sources such as foreign judgments, principles of morality or justice, equity, and professional opinions.