Difference between Common Law and Code Law

Key Difference: Common Laws are laws that have come about of been enacted based on court rulings. These laws are developed based on rulings that have been given in older court cases. Common laws are also known as case law or precedent. Code law is a systematic and comprehensive written statement of laws of a particular area of law when the code was enacted and codified. In simple terms, code law is basically a systematic list of laws that have been codified and are enforceable by law.

Laws play an important part in the society. Imagine a world without laws, it would be complete chaos. People would do as they wish and there would be no consequences. Hence, laws were established to ensure that everyone has a strict moral code that they must follow. Certain things such as stealing and murdering are not correct. Laws also ensure that people that disobey the laws must pay for their crimes and that no criminal is above the law, no matter what their social standing is. Common law and constitutional law are two types of laws that often confuse people that are not well-versed with the law books.

Common Laws are laws that have come about of been enacted based on court rulings. These laws are developed based on rulings that have been given in older court cases. Common laws are also known as case law or precedent. These rules can be written as well as unwritten. In a common law justice system, the laws of a country depend on the rulings or decisions of courts or other tribunals, where it is believed justice prevailed.

The general principal of this system is that similar cases with similar facts and issues should not be treated differently. If there is a dispute between laws, the authority or precedent looks to past cases and must provide the same reasoning and decision that was provided in the first case. The laws can also be altered and evolved based on the circumstances. The judges also have the authority to create new laws or alter and interpret older laws. Once the law has been altered or changed during the ongoing case, the law will then be enforceable on all other cases henceforth with similar evidence and situations. Many countries live in common law systems or mixed systems.

Code law is a systematic and comprehensive written statement of laws of a particular area of law when the code was enacted and codified. In simple terms, code law is basically a systematic list of laws that have been codified and are enforceable by law. This type of law system is a part of almost every legal system, including common law systems and civil law systems. However, their usage in each system differs. In a common law system, the code is a less common form of legislation and it only modifies the original common law, while leaving the rest of the law intact. It only encompasses a small amount of the law. In a particular area, a code law also has the power to completely replace the common law, until the code is repealed. In a civil law system, the code covers the complete system of law and all aspects of the law established.

The code law systems have been around since the Ancient times, with majority of countries usually following the code law systems. The oldest compiled codes are the Sumerian Code of Ur-Nammu and the Babylonian Code of Hammurab, enacted 2100-2050 BC and 1760 BC, respectively. Other similar codes in other places have followed including the Twelve Tablets, Tang Code, etc. In many common-law countries, the codes play a different part of being the exception rather than the rule. Many different states in different countries are allowed to adopt their own codes, though attempts at creating uniform rules are still ongoing. There are two types of popular codes:  Civil code and criminal code. The civil code forms the core of civil law systems and covers the entire system of private law. In common law systems, the laws often cover a small amount of common laws and statutes. A criminal code compiles a list of criminal activities and the penalties set for that particular criminal activity. Criminal codes tend of build legal systems around codes and principles and apply them on a case to case basis, changing depending on the case.

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