An introduction to laws

Laws are rules, regulations and restrictions that apply to all members of society. Laws define how people should behave or conduct themselves, and provide sanctions and deterrents against improper and destructive behaviour. Laws help to organise our societies, maintain order, ensure our safety and prevent infringements of our rights. Without laws, societies would descend into lawlessness, anarchy and violence. In a democratic society, laws are created by representatives of the people (parliaments) and independent judges and magistrates (courts). There are two types of laws: criminal law, which deals with offences against people, property and morality, and civil law, which deals with disputes between different parties. The following topic pages offer a brief introduction to laws. If you would like to suggest or contribute a topic, please contact us.

What is a law?
The rule of law
Making our laws
Values and the law
The difference between criminal and civil law

Case study: Smacking or spanking
Case study: Homosexuality and the law
Case study: Pornography and the law

© 2014. Content on this page may not be republished or distributed without permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use.