Law underlies our society -it protects our rights, imposes duties on each of us, and establishes a framework for the conduct of almost every social, political, and economic activity. The punishment of crime, compensation of the injured, and the enforcement of contracts are merely some of the tasks of a modern legal system. It also strives to ensure justice, promote freedom, and protect our security. The result is a system that, while it touches all of our daily lives, is properly understood by only a few, with its impenetrable jargon, obsolete procedures, and interminable stream of Byzantine statutes and judgments of the courts. This clear, jargon-free Very Short Introduction cuts introduces the essentials of law and legal systems in a lively, accessible, and stimulating manner. Explaining the main concepts, terms, and processes of the legal system, it focuses on the Western tradition, but also examines other legal systems, such as customary law and Islamic law. And it looks to the future too, as globalization and rapid advances in technology place increasing strain on our current legal system.
Raymond Wacks is Emeritus Professor of Law and Legal Theory at the University of Hong Kong. His books include Understanding Jurisprudence: An Introduction to Legal Theory (OUP, 2005); and Philosophy of Law: A Very Short Introduction (OUP 2006). He has appeared on BBC television, and CNN and BBC radio, and has written for publications such as The Times (London), the New Statesman, and The Spectator.