Law shapes politics, economics, history and society in many ways. The field of Law is complex and diverse, with laws covering such varied aspects as contracts; air, water, energy and telecoms; property rights; intellectual property; labour relations; maritime law; medical jurisprudence; and criminal law. Laws cover both statutory and non-statutory sources of rules, including both written constitutions and rules developed over time by the courts and other judicial bodies. The varying purposes of laws in the modern world include (1) preserving peace, (2) maintaining the status quo, (3) defending individual rights, (4) protecting minorities against majorities, (5) promoting social justice, and (6) providing for orderly social change.
A Law is any set of rules, whether passed by parliament or not, that is recognised and enforceable in the courts by the supreme court of the land, or that can be enacted by other legal institutions such as local government bodies, councils or community groups. Laws can also be the result of the actions of judges who are bound by a statutory code of practice.
Although legal systems differ from country to country, and sometimes within a country, they do have similarities that are based on historically accepted ideals of justice. These include the principles of supremacy of the law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, separation of powers, participation in decision making and legal certainty. For more information about these characteristics of Law see Rule of law.