Policy Lab

Berkeley Law

Canon law is only in use by members of the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion. Common law originated from England and has been inherited by almost every country once tied to the British Empire (except Malta, Scotland, the U.S. state of Louisiana, and the Canadian province of Quebec). In medieval England, the Norman conquest the law varied shire-to-shire, based on disparate tribal customs. The concept of a “common law” developed during the reign of Henry II during the late 12th century, when Henry appointed judges that had authority to create an institutionalised and unified system of law “common” to the country. The next major step in the evolution of the common law came when King John was forced by his barons to sign a document limiting his authority to pass laws.

Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore and Hong Kong also adopted the common Law system. The eastern Asia legal tradition reflects a unique blend of secular and religious influences. Japan was the first country to begin modernising its legal system along western lines, by importing parts of the French, but mostly the German Civil Code. This partly reflected Germany’s status as a rising power in the late 19th century. Similarly, traditional Chinese law gave way to westernisation towards the final years of the Qing Dynasty in the form of six private law codes based mainly on the Japanese model of German law.

  • International, constitutional and administrative law, criminal law, contract, tort, property law and trusts are regarded as the “traditional core subjects”, although there are many further disciplines.
  • The Eighth Circuit has halted President Joe Biden’s student loan debt relief program while it considers the merits of a six-state effort to block the plan, finding that the plan’s “irreversible impact” weighs in favor of hitting pause on the matter for now.
  • Roman law in the days of the Roman Republic and Empire was heavily procedural, and lacked a professional legal class.
  • In order to maintain professionalism, the practice of law is typically overseen by either a government or independent regulating body such as a bar association, bar council or law society.
  • Anarchism encompasses a broad range of social political philosophies with different tendencies and implementation.

In common law legal systems, decisions by courts are explicitly acknowledged as “law” on equal footing with statutes adopted through the legislative process and with regulations issued by the executive branch. The “doctrine of precedent”, or stare decisis (Latin for “to stand by decisions”) means that decisions by higher courts bind lower courts, and future decisions of the same court, to assure that similar cases reach similar results. Many Muslim countries have developed similar rules about legal education and the legal profession, but some still allow lawyers with training in traditional Islamic law to practice law before personal status law courts. In China and other developing countries there are not sufficient professionally trained people to staff the existing judicial systems, and, accordingly, formal standards are more relaxed.

For a description of legal training and a general background, see legal profession, legal education, and legal ethics. Articles that delineate the relationship of law to political structures are constitution; ideology; political party; and political system. For articles that discuss the importance of law regarding social justice and other social issues, see human rights; land reform; and social service. For an examination of comparative legal systems and the relationship of the law to the social sciences, see comparative law.

Casting Off Rwanda’s Colonial Legacy Through New Legal Scholarship

Then, thwarted, the wretched creature went to the police for help; she was versed in the law, and had perhaps spared no pains to keep on good terms with the local constabulary. Check the progress of important initiatives the Commission is currently working on and find out what stage they are at in the policy and law-making cycle. Government blunder pushing solicitors to action Government’s baffling refusal to give solicitors parity with barristers has angered and galvanised the profession.

Discover UW Law

John Locke, in his Two Treatises of Government, and Baron de Montesquieu in The Spirit of the Laws, advocated for a separation of powers between the political, legislature and executive bodies. Their principle was that no person should be able to usurp all powers of the state, in contrast to the absolutist theory of Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan. Sun Yat-sen’s Five Power Constitution for the Republic of China took the separation of powers further by having two additional branches of government—a Control Yuan for auditing oversight and an Examination Yuan to manage the employment of public officials. Civil law jurisdictions treat contracts differently in a number of respects, with a more interventionist role for the state in both the formation and enforcement of contracts. In France, an ordinary contract is said to form simply on the basis of a “meeting of the minds” or a “concurrence of wills”.

About the author