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Difference between Civil and Common Law

Difference between Civil and Common Law

When most people think of the law, they picture courtroom dramas with stern-faced judges and fancy lawyers. However, there are two main types of law in the United States: civil and common. While both systems have similarities, there are some key differences between them. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at those differences.

What is Civil Law?

Civil law is one of the major legal systems used around the world. Unlike other legal systems, which focus primarily on criminal law and public law, civil law primarily governs issues related to private individuals and organizations. At its core, civil law is designed to provide a framework for resolving disputes and making decisions that are in the best interests of all parties involved. This often requires an objective and unbiased approach, as well as an emphasis on compromise and communication. One of the key features of civil law is its use of a system of statutes rather than case law. This allows for greater flexibility and efficiency in responding to changes in society and technology, while still ensuring that established principles remain intact. Overall, civil law offers a useful framework for navigating many common issues faced in both personal and professional contexts.

What is Common Law?

  • Common law is a legal system that has its origins in medieval England. At the time, legal disputes were typically resolved through trial by combat or ordeal – methods that often relied more on fate or superstition than actual legal principles. In order to provide greater consistency and clarity in resolving these disputes, a set of uniform laws began to emerge, which are now known as common law.
  • Today, the common law remains an important part of many legal systems around the world. One of its key features is that it relies on precedent – that is, previous rulings made by judges – rather than being explicitly written down in any one source. While this approach has its advantages, it can also be somewhat unpredictable, as any new case may potentially alter or even overturn established precedents. Despite these challenges, common law continues to be recognized as an important tool for resolving legal conflicts and ensuring justice and fairness in the judicial system.

Difference between Civil and Common Law

  • There are two main legal systems in the world: civil law and common law. Both systems have their own unique features, and each is used in different parts of the world.
  • Civil law systems are based on codified laws, meaning that there is a comprehensive body of laws that are compiled into a single code. This code covers all aspects of public and private life, and it is applied in a uniform way across the country. Civil law systems originated in Continental Europe, and they are still used in many countries today, including France, Germany, and Japan.
  • Common law systems, on the other hand, are based on case law, meaning that judges play a more active role in developing the law. In common law countries, precedent is given great weight, so decisions made in earlier cases are often used to guide judges in later cases. Common law systems originated in England, and they are used in many Commonwealth countries today, including Australia, Canada, and India.
  • Both civil law and common law have their own strengths and weaknesses, but they both play an important role in the global legal system.


The two systems of law have different origins, purposes, and applications. Understanding the difference between civil and common law is important for lawyers and citizens alike. While there are some similarities between the two systems, understanding the distinctions is key to making accurate comparisons and decisions about which system would be most beneficial in a given situation.

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