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Assessing Of Civil And Common Laws

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Date added: 17-06-26

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First of all, I would like to give some information about Civil law. Civil Law or Roman Law is second well-known legal system in the Western World which is obtained from the Roman Empire. The Civil Law system described a system whereby the law of the land gains from the civil authority or the state. In general, Civil law was intended to avoid future debates and guide behavior or when that guidance failed, to set forward the penalties or restore that would be available for the failure to so bear. The Civil Law system is still the foundational system in many parts of the world, including continental Europe and Latin America.Civil law is sometimes referred to as neo-Roman law, Romano-Germanic law or Continental law. [1] Moreover, civil law is the branch of law handling with debates between individuals and companies in which victim may be awarded by compensation. For example, in a car crash victim claims damages against the driver for injury sustained in an accident and this will be a civil case. [2] As for common law, it is the body of law which developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals, rather than from statutes or constitutions. In this system of law past cases and their decisions are depended on to resolve what the outcome have to be in a present case. This application of past decisions to present cases is called precedent [3] . (Wikipedia 2010)

Difference between civil and common law systems

In general, civil law systems differs from common law systems in many ways. First of all, if we look in history, common law was developed by custom, beginning before there were any written laws and continuing to be applied by courts while civil law developed out of the Roman law of Justinian's Corpus Juris Civilis. Moreover, in Civil law systems, laws set the general principles of the law particularly by stating them; the courts then make their own explanation of those general principles once again in each case to arrive at conclusions about how those general principles translate into details. Civil and common law systems also different in criminal procedure. In fact, in civil law system plays a more active role in verifying the facts of the case. Besides that civil law countries examine main crimes by using the inquisitorial system. Moreover, civil law systems rely much more on written argument than oral argument. [4]

Substantive and procedural law

Substantive law is the constitutional law which manages the rights and responsibilities those who are subject to it. Substantive law classifies the legal relationship of people with other people or between the state and people. Substantive law identifies crimes and penalties in criminal law as well as civil rights and responsibilities in civil law. [5]

Procedural law is the rule which a court determines what is happening in civil and criminal proceedings [6] . Procedural law is different from substantive law that creates, identifies and controls the human rights and responsibilities of individuals. Federal and state constitutions, statues as well as legal decisions are main for substantive civil law on issues such as contracts and probate. The vital concern of procedural law is fair, orderly, efficient and predictable application of substantive laws. [7]

It is a popular fact that the judicial system divides into two types of cases. They are civil and criminal procedures. Now I am going to discuss the differences between civil and criminal procedure. Before mentioning the differences, I consider that it is important to give the general information about these procedures.

Civil procedure

To begin with civil procedure, it is the body of law that sets out the rules and principles which judges follow when adjudicating civil lawsuits whereas in criminal procedure vice versa. The civil procedure is the procedure which apply in cases which are not considered as criminal. In general, government use criminal trials in order to protect and provide help to the public through punishing an individual. Everyone can use civil trial in turn to implement or protect their rights through orders which are given by courts and by monetary rewards. [8]

Criminal procedure

“Criminal procedures are safeguards against the indiscriminate application of criminal laws and the wanton treatment of suspected criminals. Specifically, they are designed to enforce the constitutional rights of criminal suspects and defendants, beginning with initial police contact and continuing through arrest, investigation, trial, sentencing, and appeals” [9] (thefreedictionary.com 2010) It is a obvious that criminal procedures are different from civil procedure and in the following paragraphs I will state the difference between these procedures and give some examples in order to support my point of view. For instance, in England if someone defines as a defendant, English criminal court can force the person who commit the crime to pay fine as a punishment and he or she may have to pay the legal cost of the action. Nevertheless, the victim of a crime pursue his claim for damages in a civil, not a criminal action. In France, a person who suffer from crime may be rewarded damages by a criminal court judge. In criminal procedures the person who commit a crime risks not only to pay financial penalties but also will be sent to prison and this system is higher then civil one. “In a criminal case a crime cannot be proven if the person or persons judging it doubt the guilt of the suspect and have a reason for this doubt. But in a civil case, the court will weigh all the evidence and decide what is most probable.” (encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com 2010) The evidence in civil action is more necessarily acceptable then the evidence from in criminal trial. For instance, the person who injured from road accident does not have benefit if the driver who injured him or her is found guilty of careless driving crime. He has to prove his case in civil action even he might be able to prove his civil case even the driver found not guilty in the criminal trial. [10]


To sum up I would like to restate that civil and common legal systems are very important and plays significant role in our life as I said in the introduction. As I mentioned in the previous paragraphs there are some differences between civil (continental) and common law legal systems as well as in their criminal and civil procedure.
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