What is the Difference Between Common Law and Civil Law?

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  • Written By: Jodee Redmond
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 23 April 2020
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Civil law is different from common law in a number of ways. This type of legal system originated from Roman law, and is still the standard in a number of countries around the world. Countries with this system of law include Brazil, France, Germany, Spain and Switzerland.

Common law is based on precedent and has been used since before the time when laws were first written down. This system of justice was developed in England and is still being used in Australia, most of Canada, England, India and the United States, except for the state of Louisiana. Judges, who are asked to interpret written law, make decisions, which are then used as precedents for future cases. The Canadian province of Quebec and Louisiana in the United States operate under the civil law system.

In jurisdictions where civil law is the method of justice that is being used, judges enforce the law strictly as it is written. People who are subject to civil law understand that when it comes to meting out punishments, a judge in a case will look at the legislation to determine the appropriate sentence or fine.

Under a civil law system, cases are decided by judges who are specially trained for their role. In common law countries, a person who is interested in becoming a judge must first go through the process of getting the education required to become a lawyer. The next step in the process is to practice for a number of years before being elected or appointed to the bench.

In a country where common law is the method used, lawyers are in charge of presenting the case before the judge in an adversarial system. Each side takes a position and presents evidence to support it. Under this system, the judge generally remains silent unless responding to an objection made by legal counsel. Civil law judges take on an inquisitional role, and ask the parties questions to understand and rule on the legal issues involved.

When lawyers are preparing for trial in a common law country, they look to legal precedents to determine how the court may rule on a certain type of case. The judge may want to receive submissions of case law to support each side's position. Under a civil law system, the lawyers and the judge will refer to the written law, or code, for guidance. The code includes laws relating to property, commercial enterprises and individuals.

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Post 6

I just want to know that how can the people in the countries which use common law system be protected by law? because the judges in common law system use their own decision by following the previous precedents. I don't think that all the previous precedents can be used in every cases that occur in the different situations.

Post 4

Comfyshoes- I wanted to add that defamation cases like this typically fall into civil litigation law because the plaintiff that is seeking the lawsuit is usually seeking significant monetary damages.

Post 3

SurfNturf-I agree but I also wanted to add that you can write the book as intended and you may have legal ground if you can prove that the information is truthful and dissseminating this information is a public safety issue.

This also falls into the privilege defense which means that you had to offer this information as a duty to other people. The last defense also pertains to the person's reputation as it currently stands.

If the person already had a bad reputation as a result of their past actions then chances are that any defamation action against you will not be successful.

For example, if you write a book about a person who was charaged and

convicted of sexual assault then all of the defense arguments come into play because it is a measure of public safety to let other know about this person's violent past.

Also, the fact that the person was convicted means that the charges were true and the fact that the person already suffered from a damaged reputation was a direct result of his previous actions not your book.

Post 2

Sunny27 - I can answer that for you. In order to avoid any potential defamation, you would have to include some form of disclaminer that said that any similiarites regarding actually living people is merely a coincidence.

It is the same type of disclaimer that they have before every "Law and Order" episode which base many of their story lines on real life stories.

You also may want to change the names of the characters and include that you did that in your disclaimer. I hope that answers your question.

Post 1

I wanted to know I could be used if I write a true story based on someone's life.

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