Often described as the art of justice, law is a set of rules that are enforced by governmental institutions. It also shapes our history, politics, economics, and society. Laws can also be created by private individuals. A variety of legal systems are present in the United States, including civil law, common law, and statutory law.
In modern legal systems, the term “law” is used to refer to rules that are enforceable by governmental institutions, social institutions, and private individuals. In civil law legal systems, the term is often used in the context of judicial decisions, legislative statutes, and doctrines of precedent. Common law legal systems also explicitly acknowledge that judges, politicians, and other executive branch officials have the authority to create and enforce laws. The term “law” can also be used to refer to undisputed evidence that can be used in court.
Common law legal systems include the doctrine of precedent, which means that the decisions of one court bind the decisions of all lower courts. They also have the authority to impose penalties for violating the law. In some common law jurisdictions, the executive branch is permitted to make a state-enforced law through a decree.
Common law legal systems have evolved over the years. They are often characterized by rigidness and a strict system of equity. They also rely on argumentative theories that are used to determine the scope and meaning of a legal issue. These theories can include legal syllogism, systemic interpretation, linguistic interpretation, and directives of teleological interpretation.
Common law legal systems include both civil and criminal procedure. Criminal procedure deals with the rules of courts, while civil procedure involves rules for the court. The rules of criminal procedure include procedures for determining the existence of a crime and enforcing a criminal statute. Common law legal systems also include rules for enforcing contracts and legal issues such as personal injury, property ownership, and marriage.
Common law legal systems also incorporate the doctrine of analogy. This theory involves reasoning by analogy and the Quran to determine further law. A variety of religious laws are also found in these systems, including Islamic Sharia and Jewish Halakha.
Common law legal systems have also been divided into commercial law and personal property law. Commercial law covers the law of ownership and use of property and includes the laws on real estate, intellectual property, and trusts. Personal property law includes rights to movable and intangible objects.
Common law legal systems are also distinguished from civil law systems in that they generally have a shorter duration. They also require less detailed judicial decisions. A common law legal system is often called a “state-enforced” law, because it can be created by the government, a single legislator, or a group of legislators.
Some common law legal systems also have a system of “courts of equity” that developed under the leadership of Lord Eldon and his successors. These courts are more flexible than their common law counterparts.