Monday, December 7, 2009

Civil Law

What is it?
Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law, the primary feature of which is that laws are written into a collection, codified, and not determined, as in common law, by judges.
It holds legislation as the primary source of law, and the court system is usually inquisitorial, unbound by precedent, and composed of specially-trained judicial officers.
The principle of civil law is to provide all citizens with an accessible and written collection of the laws which apply to them and which judges must follow.
It is the most prevalent and oldest surviving legal system in the world.
The primary source of law is the legal code, which is a compendium of statutes, arranged by subject matter in some pre-specified order; a code may also be described as "a systematic collection of interrelated articles written in a terse, staccato style."
Law codes are usually created by a legislature's enactment of a new statute that embodies all the old statutes relating to the subject and including changes necessitated by court decisions.
In some cases, the change results in a new statutory concept.

Civil Law Around the World
Because Germany was a rising power in the late 19th century and its legal system was well organized, when many Asian nations were developing, the German Civil Code became the basis for the legal systems of Japan and South Korea.

In China, the German Civil Code was introduced in the later years of the Qing Dynasty and formed the basis of the law of the Republic of China, which remains in force in Taiwan.

Some authors consider civil law to have served as the foundation for socialist law used in Communist countries, which in this view would basically be civil law with the addition of Marxist–Leninist ideas.

Even if this is so, civil law was generally the legal system in place before the rise of socialist law, and Eastern Europe reverted back to civil law following the fall of socialism.

Several legal insitutions in civil law were also adapted from similar institutions in Islamic law and jurisprudence during the Middle Ages. For example, the Islamic Hawala institution is the basis of the Avallo in Italian civil law and the Aval in French civil law.

Difference From Other Major Legal Systems of the World
Common Law
  • also called, Anglo-American, English & Judge made
  • source is case law & legislation
  • lawyers control the courtroom
  • judges must be experienced lawyers
  • there is a high degree of judicial independence
  • juries are provided at trial level
  • courts share in the balance of power over policy making.

Civil law

  • also called Continental & Romano-Germanic
  • source is statutes & legislation
  • judges dominate the court
  • use career judges
  • there is a high degree of judicial independence, separate from the Executive & Legislative branches of government
  • juries adjudicate in conjunction with judges in serious criminal matters
  • an equal but separate power in policy making
Socialist Law
  • also called communism
  • source is statutes & legisaltion
  • judges dominate trials
  • judges are career bureaucrats & party members
  • judicial independence is very limited
  • juries are often used at the lowest level
  • courts are subordinate to the legislature in policy making
  • found in countries like the Soviet Union
Islamic Law
  • also known as Religious Law
  • source is the Qur'un
  • lawyers play a secondary role
  • judges have religious and legal training
  • judicial independence is very limited
  • juries are not allowed
  • courts and other government branches are subordinate to Shari'a.

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