What is the Difference Between Common Law and Statutory Law?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 February 2020
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There are three main differences between common law and statutory law. Common law is based on precedent, or case law. Statutory law is written law as decided by the legislature or other government agency. The main differences are how the laws are created and the basis of challenges.

Under common law, new laws are created through the decisions made by judges. When the judges are listening to a case, they are making decisions based on the decisions made in previous cases. In situations where no specific applicable law can be found, the decision the judge makes then become law.

Lawyers preparing to argue a case must make submissions to the court for decisions on different items based on case or common law and statutory laws that are applicable. If the plaintiff or the defendant decides to appeal the decision, they must make an argument to the appeals court. The submission must list the objections to the decision based on prior law or legal procedures.

Statutory laws are those made by the government of a country. There are several reasons to issue these types of law: to meet citizens needs, to formalize existing law or resolve an outstanding issue that the courts refer to the government. The government has a clear role in determining the laws and punishments that are appropriate for their country.


Statutory laws can be issued by a variety of government agencies and their jurisdictions and effective dates can vary quite widely. In addition to laws issued by federal and state governments, cities and towns can also create their own municipal ordinances, bylaws or regulations. All these items have the power of a law. These multiple sources of legal guidelines adds to the complexity and possible conflicts within the law.

There are quite a number of countries that have a combination of statute and common law. The most important job when practicing law is to keep up to date when decisions are made that impact on your area of practice. Decisions can strike down old laws, or create possible avenues of appeal for prior cases.

The job of a legal researcher is to assist the lawyers in writing their legal arguments, basing them on a combination of case and statutory law. They must also prepare a list of possible objections or rebuttal arguments from the opposing legal team. These items, along with the details of the case, determine the legal strategy.


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Post 10

Statutory law applies only to the legal fiction created through the birth certificate. The United States is a common law country.

Post 9

Forgive me for interrupting your discussion. However, I could not let this issue pass me by without stating some truth and facts of the matter of common law and statute law,

First, I find the opinions given are from educated people who know what they're talking about – well, some anyway!

The difference between common law and statute law is no different at all in the respect that one is law and one isn’t. Common law is a law statute (law) as the establishment calls it isn’t law. The establishment can introduce acts!

These acts of parliament have to be consented to by the lords and our sovereign, who is our Queen before they become a statute act of parliament. Common

law was introduced by King John to give himself boundaries. Those boundaries were for everyone to abide by. This was when common law became the law of the land and all of us were equal, which meant you were on the same level and no one was higher than us. We were equals, which meant you were the same level in society as our king and queen -- that is fact!

These days, common law still exists, however, statute acts have been integrated into common law. They say common law doesn’t exist today, that it’s all statute acts, but when it is in the favor of the establishment, they don’t mind acknowledging common law. The day our queen was placed on her throne was the day she lost power. Why? Well, she signed the statute oath of office which gave the establishment the right to create laws in their favor.

In respect to judges? They don’t exist any more, either. The establishment, i.e., your local council, employs people and call them judges and they don’t have any power either, because they are employed under statute! In fact, you’re a more powerful person than he is under your oath of common law.

They have created two identities for every person who consents to any statue act, which is you as yourself under common law, and you as a corporate company under that document they force upon you at birth, and because you can’t speak for yourself, they presume your consent to that document as a corporate employee controlled by the establishment, if you consent to doing business with them under their oath of office which is statute!

The United Kingdom is a corporate company. Take a look at magna carta 1215. This gives you more insight into who you are and who the establishments aren’t.

Please state your opinions. Ask away and I'll answer your questions if you identify yourself to me first, as I am a free man and I do not consent to statute acts!

Post 8

The Constitution clearly states the courts in this land can operate only under common law jurisdiction to apply to sovereign citizens. Statutory law is not law at all, and government does not have constitutional authority to make public laws, only legislative law. Statutory is just a secret word for military martial law.

Post 7

How will common law and statutory law influence the delivery of health care services?

Post 6

Do not mistake common law for criminal law.

Post 5

Just do some research on the difference between the common man and the legal person. The whole system is contrived exploitation.

Post 4

This is explained well. Although some judges just have it their way. The lawyers run their courts. I have seen it, especially in small or growing communities.

Post 3

BrickBack- I can answer them for you. A common law divorce really does not exist per se. A couple involved in a common law marriage in which their individuals states recognizes that marriage, can petition a court for the dissolution of the common law agreement.

This will allow the distribution of property in the relationship in a similar fashion that a married couple would have during a divorce.

But this is not a divorce. The debts incurred during the common-law relationship will remain in each person's individual name. The debts will not be divided evenly between the two are partners as it would in a regular divorce.

Post 2

SurfNturf-Can common-law relationships end in divorce?

Post 1

Common law marriage results after a couple that is unmarried legally lives together for a certain period of time.

There are some states that recognize common-law marriages while most do not. Washington DC, Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, North Carolina, Texas, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Rhode Island recognize common law couples.

Usually these states consider common law couple married after living together for a period of seven consecutive years or more.

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