law law [lɔː ǁ lɒː] noun
1. [singular, uncountable] LAW the whole system of rules that citizens of a country must obey:

• It is against the law (= illegal ) for children to work before they are fifteen.

• There were easy profits for businessmen who were prepared to break the law (= do something illegal ) .

• The inheritance tax changes announced in the Budget became law (= were officially made a law ) .

By law (= according to the law ) a company like British Gas has to hold a meeting of its shareholders once a year.

• They make tough business deals, but are always careful to operate within the law (= do only legal things ) .

ˈcase law [uncountable] LAW
law that is based on decisions that judges have made in the past:

• In some respects European law is based more on case law than on statute.

ˌcivil ˈlaw LAW
1. [uncountable] the laws of a country dealing with the affairs of private citizens, rather than with crime and criminals:

• The purpose of the civil law is to compensate; it is the function of the criminal law to punish.

2. also Roman Law LAW the law of ancient Rome, which is still used as the basis for the legal system in some countries, especially the countries of continental Europe or countries formerly governed by them.
comˌmercial ˈlaw [uncountable] LAW
the laws relating to business and trade between companies and people involved in buying, selling, and carrying goods
ˌcommon ˈlaw [uncountable] LAW
law that has been developed from common customs and the decisions of judges rather than being decided by an act of Parliament or an act of Congress:

• Judges may have to develop a common law right to privacy, providing guidance for media regulators.

ˈcompany ˌlaw [uncountable] LAW
laws relating to the way in which companies are formed, managed, and run
ˌcriminal ˈlaw [uncountable] LAW
law dealing with crime and people who commit crime:

• A solicitor offers advice on individual problems in civil or criminal law.

ˌinternational ˈlaw [uncountable] LAW
the laws that concern relations between countries:

• Trade in Brazilian rosewood is banned under international law.

• a breach of international law

ˈlabour law [uncountable] LAW
laws relating to employment:

• They brought in reforms in labour law.

ˌprivate ˈlaw [uncountable] LAW
the area of law that deals with disagreements between people and organizations, rather than with criminal activity:

• Damages can only be sought in respect of wrongs recognized in private law.

ˌpublic ˈlaw [uncountable] LAW
the area of law that deals with relations between citizens, organizations and the state:

• Public law provides an effective structure for the implementation of the public good.

ˈstatute ˌlaw [uncountable] LAW
law that has been decided and voted for by a parliament:

• A wide range of powers are already available under statute law to combat this crime.

ˈsubstantive ˌlaw [uncountable] LAW
the part of the law that describes and controls people's rights and duties, rather than the part that describes and controls legal processes:

• This is a matter of substantive law, and not merely a procedural matter.

2. [countable] LAW a rule that people in a particular country, city, or local area must obey:

• a new state law, limiting insurance companies' junk-bond holdings to 20% of assets

substantive law on

• laws on the distribution of tobacco products

— see also bylaw
ˈblue laws [plural] LAW COMMERCE
laws in some US states preventing shops from opening on Sundays:

• The ending of the state's blue laws is expected to raise $15 million in sales taxes over two years.

ˌblue-ˈsky ˌlaws [plural] LAW FINANCE
US state laws designed to protect investors by stating that when shares, bonds etc are offered for sale, certain information must be made publicly available:

• The government could reduce the cost of capital by getting rid of the blue-sky laws.

3. rule of law LAW when the people in a country obey the laws:

• The state was too weak to impose the rule of law.

4. [uncountable] LAW the study of laws, or the profession of being a lawyer:

• Peter is a law student.

• Jackson studied law at Oxford University.

• She's a partner in a major New York law firm.

5. [countable] a way in which things happen in an activity such as business, which is thought of as a rule because it seems impossible to change:

• the law of supply and demand

— see also Pareto's Law

* * *

law UK US /lɔː/ noun
[C] GOVERNMENT, LAW a rule, usually made by a government, that states how people may and may not behave in a society, and often orders particular punishments if they do not obey: a law against sth »

There is a law against aggressive telemarketing.

a law requires/states sth »

Senate leaders proposed a law requiring rigorous new scrutiny of all future tax breaks.

a law allows/forbids/prohibits sth »

Checks will be processed more quickly, thanks to a federal law allowing banks to use electronic images of checks.

the laws on/governing sth »

He plans changes to the laws on bankruptcy.


tax/anti-trust/environmental laws

[S or U] GOVERNMENT, LAW the set or system of laws made by a government in a particular place: UK/American/Indian, etc. law »

Promising magical remedies is prosecutable under Indian law.

federal/international/state law »

The hearing was required by federal law.

obey/respect the law »

Even the most powerful people have a duty to obey the law.


uphold/enforce the law


break/disobey/violate the law


It is against the law to hire undocumented workers in the U.S.

the law says/states/requires »

The law requires traders to state clearly what rate of exchange they are using.

by law »

By law, the maximum donation allowed is $5,000.

under the law »

Under the law, private equity is taxed in exactly the same manner as every other investment.

outside/within the law »

He took risks with his business dealings, but was careful to stay within the law.

[U] GOVERNMENT, LAW the part of a set of laws that deals with a particular activity, business, or industry: »

civil/common/criminal law


labour/tax/employment law


company/intellectual property/contract law


copyright/corporate/employment law

[U] the study of law or the job of being a lawyer: go into/practise/study law »

Her mother inspired her to study law.

law firm/practice/school »

This isn't just any law school, it's the one that has more judges in more courtrooms than any other.


a law degree/graduate/professor

[C or U] the rules set by an organization that control how it and its members should behave: the laws of sth »

Managers know how to promote a respectful working environment while maintaining the laws of the office.


Church law regulates the actions of the bishops.

[C, usually plural] a rule or normal way of behaving which the people who do an activity usually follow: the laws of sth »

The laws of good business say you shake hands and make eye contact when you leave.


Out of all the laws of salesmanship, the first one to learn is to get a prospect's name.


Vendors have informal laws of their own about client-stealing.

[C] a rule which states what always happens when the same conditions exist: the law of sth »

The first law of thermodynamics says that energy is conserved in any process involving a thermodynamic system and its surroundings.

the laws of physics/science/economics »

According to the laws of physics this would not be possible.

the law — Cf. the law
See also BLUE LAWS(Cf. ↑blue laws), BLUE-SKY LAWS(Cf. ↑blue-sky laws), BYLAW(Cf. ↑bylaw), CASE LAW(Cf. ↑case law), CIVIL LAW(Cf. ↑civil law), COMMERCIAL LAW(Cf. ↑commercial law), COMMON LAW(Cf. ↑common law), COMPANY LAW(Cf. ↑company law), COMPETITION LAW(Cf. ↑competition law), CONFLICT OF LAW(S)(Cf. ↑conflict of law), COURT OF LAW(Cf. ↑court of law), CRIMINAL LAW(Cf. ↑criminal law), EMPLOYMENT LAW(Cf. ↑employment law), INTERNATIONAL LAW(Cf. ↑international law), LABOUR LAW(Cf. ↑labour law), LAW OF DIMINISHING RETURNS(Cf. ↑law of diminishing returns), MOORE’S LAW(Cf. ↑Moore’s law), MURPHY'S LAW(Cf. ↑Murphy's Law), THE PARETO PRINCIPLE(Cf. ↑the Pareto principle), PARKINSON'S LAW(Cf. ↑Parkinson's Law), PRIVATE LAW(Cf. ↑private law), PUBLIC LAW(Cf. ↑public law), STATUTE LAW(Cf. ↑statute law), SUBSTANTIVE LAW(Cf. ↑substantive law), WAGE-AND-HOUR LAWS(Cf. ↑wage-and-hour laws)

Financial and business terms. 2012.

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