Common Law Flashcards, test questions and answers
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What is Common Law?
Common Law is a system of laws that are derived from custom and court decisions rather than from written statutes. It originated in England centuries ago, and was adopted by the United States when it declared independence. Common law systems have been adopted in many countries around the world including Canada, Australia, India, South Africa and other Commonwealth nations.Unlike civil law systems which are based on codified sets of rules written into statute books, common law relies on precedent cases decided by courts that serve as guidance for future court proceedings. This means that if two people or companies become involved in a legal dispute over something like property rights or contracts, their case will be decided based on how similar cases were resolved before them. This allows lawyers to predict with some degree of accuracy how a given case may be judged based on previous outcomes. The advantage of relying on precedent is that it provides consistency within the legal system: judges must interpret cases according to established principles, even if they disagree with the outcome personally. The disadvantage is that common law can move slowly since new rulings must await an actual dispute and decision from higher courts (or sometimes legislatures) before being applied more widely across jurisdictions. Common law also tends to be very fact-specific; meaning different facts may lead to different conclusions even between seemingly identical disputes an appeals process exists so losing parties can challenge decisions before higher courts who might set aside earlier rulings due to new evidence or changes in applicable laws. Ultimately this helps guarantee fairness within our legal system by providing recourse when someone feels wronged by a lower court’s ruling but lacks any other avenue for justice such as legislation or executive action.