The Different Faces of the Law


Whether you’re a lawyer, a legal student, or just interested in the law, you probably know that it has a lot of different aspects. It can range from civil law to environmental law and more. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re talking about the law.

Common law

Several hundred years ago, common law remained the primary source of law. This judicially derived common law worked as a foundation for law for many years, until new legislation enacted in the 18th and 19th centuries replaced it.

Common law courts are usually adversarial in nature. These courts reach a legal conclusion by analyzing the statutes and previous decisions involved. Common law is also known as case law or precedent.

The term “common law” is often used as a contrast to the Roman-derived “civil law.” Common law is also used to describe the type of legal system in the United States and many other countries. In fact, one third of the world’s population lives in a common law system.

Civil law

Unlike criminal law, which deals with behaviors against individuals or the state, civil law covers behavior against private parties. Typically, disputes between businesses or private individuals are regulated by civil law. It also includes contract law, defamation law, fraud law, and malpractice law.

The civil law system is the most widely adopted legal system in the world. It’s based on Roman law, and it’s often supplemented by local practices. The system is also influenced by legal positivism and Napoleonic practices.

Environmental law

Essentially, environmental law refers to the network of regulations and customary laws that protect the environment and the people who live in it. Among other things, these laws govern air quality, water quality, and sewage. They are also important for corporations.

Environmental laws can affect business operations. For instance, a company may be denied permission to construct a new building without conducting an environmental impact assessment. The EPA investigates and punishes violations of the law.

Admiralty law

Maritime law or admiralty law is a set of rules, regulations, and procedures that govern shipping and other marine activities. The law largely governs interactions between two or more ships and their crews. It can be a complicated area of law, and it’s always best to have an experienced attorney guiding you through it.

Admiralty law is divided into two key categories: substantive law and procedural law. The substantive law includes maritime liens, charters of goods, and other contracts relating to ships and navigation. In addition, there are special rules applied to admiralty cases by courts.

Religious law

Generally, religious law refers to ethical and moral codes taught by religious traditions. Religious laws are used to regulate individual and communal conduct. Some examples include Islamic sharia, Hindu law, and Jewish halakhah.

Religious courts operate across the United States. They usually deal with disputes between members of a specific faith. In some cases, the dispute is settled amicably. Other times, formal tribunals are used. These tribunals are often used only after attempts at mediation have failed.

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