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​​Law is a system of rules created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,[2] with its precise definition a matter of longstanding debate.[3][4][5] It has been variously described as a science[6][7] and the art of justice.[8][9][10] State-enforced laws can be made by a group legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes; by the executive through decrees and regulations; or established by judges through precedent, usually in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals may create legally binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that adopt alternative ways of resolving disputes to standard court litigation. The creation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution, written or tacit, and the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people. ​Legal systems vary between countries, with their differences analysed in comparative law. In civil law jurisdictions, a legislature or other central body codifies and consolidates the law. In common law systems, judges make binding case law through precedent,[11] although on occasion this may be overturned by a higher court or the legislature.[12] Historically, religious law influenced secular matters,[13] and is still used in some religious communities.[14][15] Sharia law based on Islamic principles is used as the primary legal system in several countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia.[16][17] ​Law's scope can be divided into two domains. Public law concerns government and society, including constitutional law, administrative law, and criminal law. Private law deals with legal disputes between individuals and/or organisations in areas such as contracts, property, torts/delicts and commercial law.[18] This distinction is stronger in civil law countries, particularly those with a separate system of administrative courts;[19][20] by contrast, the public-private law divide is less pronounced in common law jurisdictions.[21][22] ​Law provides a source of scholarly inquiry into legal history,[23] philosophy,[24] economic analysis[25] and sociology.[26] Law also raises important and complex issues concerning equality, fairness, and justice.

​Northampton /nɔːrˈθæmptən/ (About this soundlisten) is a large market town and the county town of Northamptonshire in the East Midlands of England. It lies on the River Nene, 60 miles (97 km) north-west of London and 50 miles (80 km) south-east of Birmingham.[2][3] One of the largest towns (as opposed to cities) in England,[4] it had a population of 212,100 at the 2011 census (223,000 est. 2019).

Archaeological evidence of settlement in the area dates to the Bronze Age, Romans and Anglo-Saxons. In the Middle Ages, the town rose to national significance with the establishment of Northampton Castle, an occasional royal residence which regularly hosted the Parliament of England. Medieval Northampton had many churches, monasteries and the University of Northampton, all enclosed by the town walls. It was granted a town charter by Richard I in 1189 and a mayor was appointed by King John in 1215. The town was also the site of two medieval battles, in 1264 and 1460.

Northampton supported the Parliamentary Roundheads in the English Civil War, and Charles II ordered the destruction of the town walls and most of the castle. The Great Fire of Northampton in 1675 destroyed much of the town. It was soon rebuilt and grew rapidly with the industrial development of the 18th century. Northampton continued to grow with the arrival of the Grand Union Canal and the railways in the 19th century, becoming a centre for footwear and leather manufacture.

Northampton's growth was limited until it was designated as a New Town in 1968, accelerating development in the town. It unsuccessfully applied for city status in 2000.[5]

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