Common Law Vs. Civil Law

On the surface common law and civil law might seem to be the same thing. Yet they are two separate systems of law. Common law is the legal system used in countries such as The United States of America and The United Kingdom Of Great Britain. Civil law on the other hand is the legal system used in countries such as France and Germany.

Common law began to form also during the Middle Ages in England. Common law spread across the world through the colonies that were formed by England. Common law is law that is influenced by case law. This means that in court cases the outcome of one case will set a precedent for the next potential outcome of the next case. This gives judges a high amount of involvement in developing law. In common law only individuals who have successfully graduated with a law degree and passed the appropriate exam can give legal advice. This includes the drafting and creating of all kinds of legal documents.

In common law lawyers play a central role in court in regards to the examination of witnesses, presenting evidence before the judge and jury and delivering statements. Once the defending lawyer has given their closing statement the judge then weighs up the evidence and delivers a verdict. With common law the judge has room to create an outcome that they see most fits the crime committed.

Civil law was established in Europe during the Middle Ages and spread through the world via the Spanish and Portuguese. Civil law was created by codes and statutes that aim to provide a legal solution to all crimes. This means that judges have little room to give their own judgments like in common law. In civil law judges take the outcome of prior cases into little consideration when deciding the outcome of a case. In countries where civil law is practiced, lawyers do not have to be used for drafting legal documents. There are other middlemen who do not have to have a law degree that provide will and contract assistance to people.

In civil law judges take a lead role in the prosecution of accused people. The judges are more investigators and bring charges to accused people and examine witnesses themselves to establish facts during court cases. Lawyers in civil law represent their clients during civil cases. Yet unlike common law lawyers play a less central role in defending their clients in the courtroom.