Difference between civil law system and common law system
I have been working in the social sector for a while. Not being trained in Law makes it a tad bit difficult. Keep coming across the two terms Civil Law system and Common Law System. What exactly is the difference between them?
Common Law is the law of precedents; that is the law is interpreted and "written" by judges hearing the cases and the decision is based on previous judgments. Their decisions become the 'rule of law' for all future cases that are factually similar. The civil or codified law is law that is written into statute or code books and are strictly interpreted by the courts of that country.
In a country which uses civil law, the legal system is based upon legal principles and codes usually rooted from the laws and legal system of the Roman Empire. Any updates to the legal code must be made through legislation or other lengthy processes. Therefore, judges must make rulings based only on these codes and statutes, only analyzing past judicial interpretations of the law for advice. This process allows for a stabler and more representative legal system. France, Germany, and Spain are modern examples of countries who use civil law.
On the other hand, a country which uses common law as a legal system. It is based primarily upon past judicial opinions. These judicial opinions are interpretations of legislation, which is considered to be a guide to literal requirements such as under civil law. Thus, common law systems acquire their laws over time and may have their laws altered by single rulings. This practice allows for a more flexible and expeditious legal system bypassing the often reluctant and slow-moving legislative system. Because it was developed in England, modern examples of countries which use common law are typically former English colonies such as Australia, India, Canada, and the United States.
The adversarial system (Common Law System) is a legal system where two advocates represent their parties' positions before an impartial person or group of people, usually a jury or judge, who attempt to determine the truth of the case. As opposed to that, the inquisitorial system (Civil Law System) has a judge (or a group of judges who work together) whose task is to investigate the case.
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