Common Law and Civil Law Essay

1675 Words Mar 28th, 2012 7 Pages
Topic 1: Distinguish between the role of criminal law and civil law in relation to the legal system and analyse the purpose of the law. Criminal law is the body of law that relates to crime. It might be defined as the body of rules that defines conduct that is prohibited by the state because it is held to threaten, harm or otherwise endanger the safety and welfare of the public, and that sets out the punishment to be imposed on those who breach these laws. [1] The criminal law serves several purposes and benefits society by maintaining order, resolving disputes, protecting individuals and property, providing for smooth functioning of society and safeguarding civil liberties.[2] Civil law seeks to resolve non-criminal …show more content…
It is the body of precedent and binds future decision.[1] The term "common law" also underlines the fact that this type of law did not originate from equity, maritime and other special branches of law. [2] The type of reasoning used to interpret this law is known as 'case-based' reasoning, which is a strict, principle-based reasoning that uses the circumstances of a case to evaluate the laws that are applicable. Common law judges rely on their predecessors' decisions of relevant courts rather than on abstract codes or texts, to guide them in applying the law. [3] They find the grounds for their decisions in law reports, which contain decisions from the past (this principle is known as stare decisis). If common law judges hear a case that has a new issue in it (called a "matter of first impression"), the judges have the authority to make law by creating precedent, which then must be followed by other courts with equal standing within the legal system. The precedent remains law unless and until a higher court overturns the decision. In most cases, common law applies only within that jurisdiction. Judges often create common law by writing opinions about cases that bind lower courts in that jurisdiction. The foundation for this type of law is formed by torts, property and contracts. A court's decision is binding authority for similar cases decided by the same court or

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