A Brief Definition Of Civil Law

A Brief Definition Of Civil Law

Just like doctors and engineers, different lawyers specialise in different fields. To know what kind of lawyer you should hire or keep on hand with the right legal cover, it’s best to understand the kind of legal issues you’re likely to encounter. The definition of civil law sounds simple enough on the surface: the system of law concerned with private relations between members of a community rather criminal, military, or religious affairs. However, we decided to unpack this admittedly broad definition. Here’s what civil law really entails and what you can prepare yourself for with reliable legal insurance.

A brief history

The current system of civil law, which is so prevalent throughout the European continent, has its roots in ancient Rome. The expression “civil law” is a rough translation of the Latin jus civile, or “citizens law”. This legal system was a bit different to the laws governing conquered peoples (jus gentium) and pertained primarily to free citizens of the empire.

These laws were amended further a few centuries later under the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I. His codex of laws, the Corpus Juris Civilis (“Body of Civil Law), became the basis of modern civil law enjoyed by most of the world today.

What is the purpose of civil law?

Civil law deals with behaviour that constitutes an injury to an individual or other private party, such as a corporation.

Civil law differs from criminal law in that civil law serves to resolve disputes and provide compensation for someone injured by someone else’s actions. The injured person is the one to file a complaint (of course), but the decision to file criminal charges belongs to the government. This is because civil law cases are concerned only with private law.

Branches of civil law

  • Contract law: Deals with agreements between two or more parties, each of which is obligated to hold up their portion of the agreement. Examples include lease agreements on apartments and employment contracts.
  • Tort law: A recourse in the aftermath of actions that result in personal injury and/or property damage. This branch covers negligence (an unintentional tort), intentional tort (e.g. false imprisonment, fraud, invasion of privacy), and strict liability (e.g. indemnity agreements).
  • Property law: Concerning personal property (e.g. jewellery, livestock, merchandise, patents, stocks, and bonds) and real property (i.e. land or anything built that cannot be easily removed).
  • Family law: Concerning marriage, divorce, child custody, adoption, birth, child support, and other issues affecting families.

A civil law issue could affect you at any point in your life. Whether you’re writing up a contract for a new employee or navigating the difficult roads of divorce and custody, having the right lawyer on your side can save you a lot of trouble. Personal legal insurance can remove the stress of whether you’ll be able to afford a lawyer when the time comes. Get and compare legal cover quotes today!

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