Basically, law is the body of rules enforceable by social institutions. These include courts, governments, constitutions, and societies. In addition, it is a political process that shapes history and economics.
Common law is a legal system that explicitly acknowledges decisions made by courts as “law”. This system includes the doctrine of precedent, which means that decisions made by higher courts are binding on lower courts.
Civil law is a legal system that requires less detailed judicial decisions. In a civil law system, judges write a single decision that applies to a single case.
In a common law system, judges can make state-enforced laws, such as statutes. Laws can also be created by an executive through decrees.
In both types of legal systems, the process of legal reasoning and interpretation is different. Utilitarian theories were dominant in law until the 20th century, when the concept of “natural law” began to re-enter mainstream culture.
The concept of “natural law” came about in ancient Greek philosophy. It later re-emerged in mainstream culture through the writings of Thomas Aquinas.
Law can be divided into three categories: property law, personal law, and contract law. Property law concerns the rights to property, including land and movable objects. Personal law is related to rights to money, personal property, and intangibles. Commercial law deals with the rules of business.
In addition to these three areas of law, there are many other areas of law. International law, for example, can refer to law of supranational organizations. Some examples are international commercial law, international environmental law, and international tax law.