Civil law, civilian law, or Roman law is a legal system originating in Europe, intellectualized within the framework of late Roman law, and whose most prevalent feature is that its core principles are codified into a referable system which serves as the primary source of law. This can be contrasted with common law systems whose intellectual framework comes from judge-made decisional law which gives precedential authority to prior court decisions on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different occasions
Conceptually, civil law proceeds from abstractions, formulates general principles, and distinguishes substantive rules from procedural rules. It holds case law to be secondary and subordinate to statutory law. When discussing civil law, one should keep in mind the conceptual difference between a statute and a codal article. The marked feature of civilian systems is that they use codes with brief text that tend to avoid factually specific scenarios. Code articles deal in generalities and thus stand at odds with statutory schemes which are often very long and very detailed.
Some salient features of the civil law:
- Clear expression of rights and duties, so that remedies are self-evident.
- Simplicity and accessibility to the citizen, at least in those jurisdictionswhere it is codified.
- Advance disclosure of rules, silence in the code to be filled based on equity, general principles, and the spirit of the law.
- Richly developed and to some extent transnational academic doctrine inspiring the legislature and the judiciary.
Why civil law is important?
A distinguishing feature of civil law remains that it is enforceable horizontally in society directly against those who fail in their civil law obligations and responsibilities and does not depend on a report being made to and acted upon by a public authority “top-down” within the public law realm. There are significant advantages to the state in fostering direct horizontal enforcement. From an economic point of view, horizontal legal liability for the cost of failure to fulfil civil law obligations and responsibilities leads to internalisation of the cost of civil misbehaviour in the cost of production. This in turn allows civil and commercial actors who comply with the law to succeed in competition with those who do not fulfil their legal obligations and responsibilities, allowing the rule of law to be achieved more broadly at lower social cost. Also, private parties may claim compensation directly from the wrongdoer who is deprived of the benefits of the unlawful conduct.
How we can help you?
We offer legal advice, consultancy and assistance in various fields of civil law. Amongst these :
Contract Law; Debt-Collecting; Inheritance Law; Family Law, etc.