What is Law?

At this stage it is appropriate to consider what is actually understood by the phrases ‘The Law’; “according to the Law”; it is in fact one of the hardest questions for any lawyer to answer because there is no one easy meaning, in fact no single answer. Everyone recognizes that a society has ‘rules’ and that all societies have their own set of rules. We can call these rules the legal system or, ‘the law’. These legal rules have the main following purposes:

1. Rules prohibiting or compelling certain behavior
2. Rules relating to the compensation by one person to another for injury caused.
3. Rules relating to certain procedural issues, e.g. making of wills, contracts, the transfer of land.
4. Guidelines relating to punishment for those who break certain rules.
5. Administrative rules for the running of the country.
6. Rules regulating the legislature – the law making body.

But the concept of law is much more than this. It is concerned with both obligatory and optional behavior; with authority: with morality and justice. Thus further delving into the initial question would lead into the vast topic of jurisprudence which is, broadly speaking, the science or philosophy of the law. This lesson is not, however, the place to deal with jurisprudence. The aim of this course is to provide a practical and comprehensive knowledge of the legal principles and requirements and obligations as are encountered in everyday business life, especially in relation to contracts for the carriage of goods by sea. It is sufficient to say that any student who must tackle the law should be aware of its greater depth and intellectual potential. There is no such thing as having ‘done the law’.