Civil law is the legal system


Civil law is the legal system used in most countries around the world today. In civil law the sources recognised as authoritative are, primarily, legislation”especially codifications in constitutions or statutes passed by government”and custom.[58] Codifications date back millennia, with one early example being the Babylonian Codex Hammurabi. Modern civil law systems essentially derive from the legal practice of the Roman Empire whose texts were rediscovered in medieval Europe. Roman law in the days of the Roman Republic and Empire was heavily procedural, and lacked a professional legal class.[59] Instead a lay person, iudex, was chosen to adjudicate. Precedents were not reported, so any case law that developed was disguised and almost unrecognised.[60] Each case was to be decided afresh from the laws of the state, which mirrors the (theoretical) unimportance of judges’ decisions for future cases in civil law systems today. During the 6th century AD in the Eastern Roman Empire, the Emperor Justinian I codified and consolidated the laws that had existed in Rome, so that what remained was one-twentieth of the mass of legal texts from before.[61] This became known as the Corpus Juris Civilis. As one legal historian wrote, “Justinian consciously looked back to the golden age of Roman law and aimed to restore it to the peak it had reached three centuries before.”[62] Western Europe, meanwhile, slowly slipped into the Dark Ages, and it was not until the 11th century that scholars in the University of Bologna rediscovered the texts and used them to interpret their own laws.[63] Civil law codifications based closely on Roman law, alongside some influences from religious laws such as Canon law and Islamic law,[64][65] continued to spread throughout Europe until the Enlightenment; then, in the 19th century, both France, with the Code Civil, and Germany, with the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, modernised their legal codes. Both these codes influenced heavily not only the law systems of the countries in continental Europe (e.g. Greece), but also the Japanese and Korean legal traditions.

Today countries that have civil law systems range from Russia and China to most of Central and Latin America.

civil law

1. The body of laws of a state or nation dealing with the rights of private citizens.

2. The law of ancient Rome as embodied in the Justinian code, especially that which applied to private citizens.

3. A system of law having its origin in Roman law, as opposed to common law or canon law. On:

Civil Law:

Before we move on any further to our topic civil law, the first important thing is to understand what law actually is? If we define it simply as per one of the authentic online encyclopedia, we can say that law is system of rules usually enforced through a set of institution. In general, law shapes up a system for politics, society and economics and so things go smoothly. There are so many branches of law which includes civil law, criminal law, tort laws, constitutional laws and many others. Another simple definition of civil law states that civil law is a system of law having its origin in Roman law, as opposed to common law or ca non law.

Civil law can be explained as the branch of law dealing with disputes between individuals and organizations in which compensation may be awarded to the victim. In other words, civil law is employed to distinguish those legal codes that deal with civil relationships such as citizenship, marriage, divorce, and certain contractual arrangements. There are so many other matters that comes in the category of civil law. The place where the origin of civil law took place in ancient Rome, and development of strong legal institution was the principal characteristic of Roman civilization.

One can find so many examples of civil law from everyday life which are actually cases if civil law. In case, if a car crash victim claims damage against the driver for loss or injury sustained in an accident, this will be a case of civil law. There are so many more examples which are actually related to civil law and are included in the category of civil law.

The web is the best source to find more information about law, civil law and its other branches. The best thing is to use the search engines with appropriate keywords and get the best results. On the web you can find so many detailed articles about law and its related topics. Also study the comparison of civil law with common law in order to get a clear idea about both.

What is the main objective of civil law?

Like any other branch of law civil law has its own objective too but is different from other type of laws. In case of civil law, there is attempt to right a wrong, honor an agreement, or settle a dispute.

Every country has its own set of laws, rules and regulations about different matters, so one must know it. In order to get more professional assistance there are lawyers whose job is to give advice to their clients and to represent their client in the court. These lawyers are law degree holders from the recognized law schools and institutions. Law is a scopic career and profession so if you are planning to become a lawyer, you need to get information about law schools and institution which are present near your location and web would be the best source for you to get such information. In this way you can get complete information about it, and don’t forget to get information about the various branches of law too.

IMPORTANT:DEFINITION OF CIVIL LAW–Civil law seeks to resolve non-criminal disputes such as disagreements over the meaning of contracts, property ownership, divorce, child custody, and damages for personal and property damage. A civil court is a place where people can solve their problems with people peacefully. The function of civil law is to provide a legal remedy to solve problems. Sometimes civil law is based on a state or federal statute; at other times civil law is based on a ruling by the court.

Definition 1

One of the two major legal systems of the modern Western world (the other is common law). Derived from Roman law, it is followed in the countries of continental Europe, their former colonies, Isle of Man, Latin America, Scotland, state of Louisiana in the US federation, and in Canada’s Quebec province. In this system, a highly structured and rigid code of rules is observed to the letter, and an expert judge decides cases without the help of jury and without any reference to precedent. Under this system, every defendant who enters a criminal trial is presumed guilty until proven innocent, whereas under common law (practiced in most English-speaking countries) he or she is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Definition 2

Private law which (in contrast to administrative law, criminal law, ecclesiastical law, and military law) deals with relationships among individuals.


Legal obligations arising from private wrongs (see tort) or a breach of contract that is not a criminal act (public wrong). Liability insurance covers only civil liabilities.

The differences between common law and civil law systems

Having explored the origins and development of the common law and its characteristics, the final part of this unit will compare and contrast the common law with civil legal systems.

The terms common law system and civil law system are used to distinguish two distinct legal systems and approaches to law. The use of the term “�common law’ in this context refers to all those legal systems which have adopted the historic English legal system. Foremost amongst these is, of course, the United States, but many other Commonwealth and former Commonwealth countries retain a common law system. The term “�civil law’ refers to those other jurisdictions which have adopted the European continental system of law derived essentially from ancient Roman law, but owing much to the Germanic tradition.

The usual distinction to be made between the two systems is that the common law system tends to be case-centred and hence judge-centred, allowing scope for a discretionary, pragmatic approach to the particular problems that appear before the courts. The law can be developed on a case-by-case basis. On the other hand, the civil law system tends to be a codified body of general abstract principles which control the exercise of judicial discretion. In reality, both these views are extremes, with the former overemphasising the extent to which the common law judges can impose their discretion and the latter underestimating the extent to which civil law judges have the power to exercise judicial discretion. It is perhaps worth mentioning at this point that the European Court of Justice, established, in theory, on civil law principles, is, in practice, increasingly recognising the benefits of establishing a body of case law. Although the European Court of Justice is not bound by the operation of the doctrine of stare decisis, it still does not decide individual cases on an individual basis without reference to its previous decisions.

important :

Civil Cases

In civil cases, the litigation is commenced by a plaintiff (a private person or company or a public authority) against a defendant. The plaintiff must try to prove the liability of the defendant on the balance of probabilities. The sorts of claims arising in the civil courts are typically about contracts (most common of all), torts (civil wrongs such as the causing a road accident through negligence, damaging a person’s reputation through defamation, or affecting the enjoyment of their property through causing a nuisance such as by pollution) and land disputes. The choice of court depends in most cases on the value of the claim. Claims of lesser value will start i na County Court. There are 250 County Courts around the country. They can also deal with divorce and bankruptcy matters. Relatively small claims (less than about £3,000) can be handled by a Small Claims Procedure. This involves a quick hearing, often without lawyers being present, before a District Judge. The parties can however appeal to a Circuit Judge who also deals with full County Court trials. In 1995, nearly 2.5 million “actions” (cases) were commenced. Just over two million were actions for the recovery of debts based on contracts. Almost 200,000 were actions relating to land (mainly for repossession of houses where a mortgage or rent had not been paid). Another 200,000 related to matrimonial proceedings. The Small Claims Procedure dealt with 100,000.

More substantial civil claims (over around £25,000) are heard in the High Court (based in London but also with a few regional centres, often housed within Crown Court buildings). The action is begun by writ, which is accompanied by a statement of claim in which the details of the legal dispute is set out. The High Court is organised according to case type into Divisions:

a Family Division deals with divorce and child welfare matters and also the administration of wills. Child welfare matters include both proceedings brought by child protection agencies, such as local authorities – about 17,000 in 1995. Parents and guardians may also make applications, for example about custody and access – 102,000 in 1995. There were also over 5,000 adoption orders. Divorce is mainly dealt with in the County Courts, but the High Court does hear a small number of complex, contested cases. The Family Division also oversees the uncontested administration of wills – a process called “probate”. It authorises the executors to act on behalf of the deceased person if it can be shown that all the papers are in order. There were about a quarter of a million grants of probate in 1995.

a Chancery Division considers complex matters such as disputes about wills, settlements and trusts, bankruptcy, land law, intellectual property (copyright and patents) and corporate laws. In 1995 nearly 11,000 general actions (mainly relating to land disputes) were begun. There were also 13,000 bankruptcy petitions and nearly 18,000 company cases (mainly relating to insolvency). Many of the company cases are dealt with in a specialist sub-Division, the Companies Court. See the Chancery Division judgments.

the Queen’s Bench Division deals with the remaining business – disputes about contracts or torts or land. The Queen’s Bench Division has some specialist sub-Divisions, including a Commercial Court (dealing with large and complex business disputes; there were about 200 in 1995), a Crown Office List (dealing with actions against public authorities – about 4,000) and an Admiralty Court (shipping matters – about 500). See the Queen’s Bench Division judgments.

See generally The Court Service web site and the Lord Chancellor’s Department which are currently under construction.

Any civil trial is in the vast majority of cases by a judge alone. Juries are now very rare in civil cases. Another feature to note is that cases are often slow to pass through the system, measured in months or years rather than weeks as for criminal cases. It is also important to realise that a very large proportion of civil claims are “settled” – the parties agree on how they should be resolved and therefore the case never reaches trial. This applies both to High Court and County Court. In 1995:

  • The number of trials in the County Court was just 24,477.
  • In the Queen’s Bench Division, there were 31,737 writs issued but judgement in only 1520 cases

The system of appeal in civil cases is as follows:

  • from a County Court or the High Court, there is an appeal to the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal on law only. In 1995 there were 991 final appeals and 756 “interlocutory” appeals (these are appeals from the way the case is being handled through the lower court rather than an appeal about the final verdict). See the Court of Appeal, Civil Division judgments.
  • from the High Court, there may be an appeal to the House of Lords on a matter of legal importance – just two cases in 1995
  • from the Court of Appeal, there can be an appeal to the House of Lords on fact or law, but usually appeal is only allowed on matters of legal importance – 47 in 1995