The term “civil Law“, referring to the civilian legal system originating in continental Europe, should not be confused with “civil law” in the sense of the common law topics distinct from criminal law and public law. Hegel believed that civil society and the state were polar opposites, within the scheme of his dialectic theory of history. The modern dipole state–civil society was reproduced in the theories of Alexis de Tocqueville and Karl Marx. In post-modern theory, civil society is necessarily a source of law, by being the basis from which people form opinions and lobby for what they believe law should be.
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- As one legal historian wrote, “Justinian consciously looked back to the golden age of Roman law and aimed to restore it to the peak it had reached three centuries before.” The Justinian Code remained in force in the East until the fall of the Byzantine Empire.
- Increasing numbers of businesses opt for commercial arbitration under the New York Convention 1958.
- The executive in a legal system serves as the centre of political authority of the State.
- The term failed state refers to states that cannot implement or enforce policies; their police and military no longer control security and order and society moves into anarchy, the absence of government.
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In 1972, Baron Hampstead suggested that no such definition could be produced. McCoubrey and White said that the question “what is law?” has no simple answer. Glanville Williams said that the meaning of the word “law” depends on the context in which that word is used. He said that, for example, “early customary law” and “municipal law” were contexts where the word “law” had two different and irreconcilable meanings.
Unlike criminal matters and the policing of trades and markets, religious courts had no executive powers in matters of family law. Law and order is the condition of a society in which laws are obeyed, and social life and business go on in an organized way. E.g. in England these seven subjects, with EU law substituted for international law, make up a “qualifying law degree”. For criticism, see Peter Birks’ poignant comments attached to a previous version of the Notice to Law Schools Archived 20 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine. Civil law jurisdictions recognise custom as “the other source of law”; hence, scholars tend to divide the civil law into the broad categories of “written law” or legislation, and “unwritten law” (ius non-scriptum) or custom. Yet they tend to dismiss custom as being of slight importance compared to legislation (Georgiadis, General Principles of Civil Law, 19; Washofsky, Taking Precedent Seriously, 7).
As a result, as time went on, increasing numbers of citizens petitioned the King to override the common law, and on the King’s behalf the Lord Chancellor gave judgment to do what was equitable in a case. From the time of Sir Thomas More, the first lawyer to be appointed as Lord Chancellor, a systematic body of equity grew up alongside the rigid common law, and developed its own Court of Chancery. At first, equity was often criticised as erratic, that it varied according to the length of the Chancellor’s foot. Over time, courts of equity developed solid principles, especially under Lord Eldon. In the 19th century in England, and in 1937 in the U.S., the two systems were merged.
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Another example is the Torah or Old Testament, in the Pentateuch or Five Books of Moses. This contains the basic code of Jewish law, which some Israeli communities choose to use. The Halakha is a code of Jewish law that summarizes some of the Talmud’s interpretations. Nevertheless, Israeli law allows litigants to use religious laws only if they choose. Canon law is only in use by members of the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion. Socialist law is the legal systems in communist states such as the former Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China.