Very simply, the law is a set of rules that define our rights and responsibilities. For example, homeowners have a right to decorate their house in the way that they choose, but they also have a responsibility to ensure that their property doesn't endanger others.

Laws state what people are allowed to do and what they are not allowed to do. Most workers are allowed to go on strike, but they are not allowed to forcibly prevent others from going to work. Children are entitled to an education; parents have a responsibility to ensure that their children receive an education. The grocer is not allowed to sell goods that are unfit to eat; the customer has a responsibility to honour his or her part of the contract by paying for goods.

If we don't meet our responsibilities and obligations, we may face being sued, arrested, tried, fined, sent to jail, and so on.

Free online legal advice and self-help is available from Citizens Advice