Classification of Laws
An important method of classifying law is according to the system in which it is created. •
common law Rules of law created by the courts through judicial decisions. Courts “make law” as part of the process of deciding cases and controversies before them. The case law created in this process is based on a doctrine known as stare decisis. This doctrine is based on the notion that prior decisions provide guidance that should be followed in subsequent cases involving the same questions of law. Thus, where a rule of law has been announced and followed by courts so that the rule has become settled by judicial decision, a precedent is established for future cases. The common law system originated in England. Therefore, because of our nation’s close historical association with England, the common law system is of significant importance in the United States. Indeed, many state constitutions specifically adopted the common law of England as the beginning point of those states’ legal systems. •
Civil law systems found in France and Spain are quite different from the common law system. The civil law systems rely primarily on legislative enactments, rather than judicial decisions, for law. Any court in a civil law system must defer to the legislation for the answer to a legal issue. The courts’ decisions do not become precedent. Future cases also must be resolved by reference to applicable legislation. Only Louisiana, among the various states, follows a civil law system. This is due to Louisiana’s historical ties with France. •
Public law Another way of classifying the law is to divide it into matters of public law and matters of private law. public law involves those matters that involve the regulation of society as opposed to individuals interacting. Examples of public law include constitutional law, administrative law, and criminal law. o
Constitutional law involves the interpretation and application of either the federal or a state...
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