What is the difference between common law and civil law?


Quick Answer

The University of California at Berkeley notes that common law is uncodified, which means that there is not a complete collection of legal statues and rules, while civil law is codified. As of 2014, a majority of nations follow either common law or civil law.

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Full Answer

Common law is mostly based on precedent even though it does depend on various legislative decisions, notes the University of California at Berkeley. Precedents are noted in court records and historically documented in legal reports and yearbooks. Common law is also considered to be an adversarial system in which two separate parties go before a judge and jury. The judge and jury work together to determine the final sentencing.

According to the University of California at Berkeley, nations that have a civil law system go by a legal system that is continuously updated to determine applicable procedures, appropriate sentences and which matters can be brought before a court. Examples of the different types of categories of law include procedural law, substantive law and penal law. The judge decides on case facts and applies the correct code that matches the case. The judge is required to operate within legal parameters established by a set of laws.

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