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Starting with law
Starting with law

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1 What is law and why does it matter?

In this part of the course we are going to explore the role of law within society, its relationship to us as individuals, and its purpose.

There are many aspects to our law and legal system, and you may have come across reports of court cases, crime statistics, the behaviour of judges or the sentencing of a convicted criminal in the news, books or newspapers, television programmes or films. Law is actually all around us; it is wide-ranging and governs all aspects of our lives. The law underpins simple day-to-day transactions from buying a bus ticket or a cup of coffee, to more complicated matters such as employment, paying taxes, renting a home and how businesses operate. It even provides the guidelines which determine how a government may use its powers to rule.

What is a law? How do we recognise laws and why are they obeyed? It is important that we decide what we mean by the term ‘law’ before we go any further.