Law is a set of rules established by public or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It aims to ensure the rights of individuals, maintain social order and preserve property. It covers all aspects of human activity, including commercial transactions, contracting and the right to a fair trial. Law may also refer to a particular jurisdiction or area of legal practice.
A legal system is a complex structure of laws and jurisprudence, involving multiple layers of rules, principles, and precedent. It is a product of human elaboration, based on logical taxonomies and codes that allow for adaptation to change. While some law is explicit, such as Jewish halakhah and Islamic Sharia, or Christian canon law, most law is developed through judicial interpretation by means of qiyas (reasoning by analogy), Ijma and precedent.
Legal systems are usually categorized as civil or criminal. Civil law is a comprehensive system of rules, generally arranged in codes that are easily accessible to jurists and citizens. It tends to favour cooperation, order and predictability, and avoid excessive detail. Most countries that use civil law are former colonies of continental European nations, though remnants of the civil law tradition can be found in Africa and on some Pacific islands.
The rule of law is a principle that all persons, including the government and private actors, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced, and independently adjudicated. It also requires accountability to the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, and measures to guarantee legal certainty and the avoidance of arbitrariness.