Civil Law vs Common Law

Topics: Common law, Law / Pages: 9 (2200 words) / Published: Nov 7th, 2011
There are more than 200 nations in the world nowadays, and each has a different set of laws that govern its people and its relations with the rest of the world. Whereas, international law governs relations between states, institutions, and individuals across national boundaries, municipal law governs this same person within the boundaries of a particular state. The comparative law, which is the study, analysis, and comparison of the different municipal law systems, classifies countries into legal families. The two widely distributed families are the Romano-Germanic Civil Law and the Anglo-American Common Law.
This short essay seeks an answer to the differences between two fundamentally different legal theories or systems. The original difference is that historically, civil law was developed out from the Roman law of Justinian’s Corpus Juris Civilis. Trough the enlightenment, local compilations of legal principles recognized as normative were gathered to create the codification of the Civil law. Whereas, common law was developed by custom. It was applied before any written law and continues to be applied in courts after written law. Therefore, common law is developed by judges, varies from case to case depending upon the customs of the society and the stare decisis. Whereas, in civil law judges have to follow a predefined written set of statutes and codes. However, the codification is by no means a defining characteristic of the civil law system. Indeed the civil law which was originally framed in France is divided in subgroups. For instance, the statutes that govern civil law systems of Nordic countries such as Sweden are not grouped into large codes like those find in Germany or France. [1]

The Civil law or civilian law comes from jus civile “citizens’ law” which was the Late Imperial term for its legal system, as opposed to the laws governing conquered peoples (jus gentium). It is the legal system derived from Roman and Germanic practice and set out in national

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