Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A note about Common law and Civil law

Common Law vs. Civil Law

This is how people get mixed up when reading forums with opinions that are not based on facts.
In Costa Rica the Laws are based on Civil Law which is based on Roman Law and Canonic Law, Roman Law is the common foundation upon which the European legal order is based on.
Civil law or Roman-Germanic law or Continental law is the predominant system of law in the world, in which an abstract code of law rules that judges apply to the various cases before them.
It is different from common law, in which abstract rules are derived from specific cases.
Costarican Law is similar to Napoleonic code because the Laws are organized in code books instead of purely past cases.
Besides code books judges also take in consideration past cases, evidence etc.
In civil law nations, an investigating magistrate supervises police investigations, but the magistrate does not determine innocence or guilt and functions much as a grand jury does in common law nations.
With the difference that in Civil Law the jury for the most part does not know anything about law and generally make a decision based on their feelings, in Common law a group of one, three or five judges is used depending on the court that reviews the case.

Lic.Gregory Kearney Lawson.
Attorney at Law/Real Estate Broker

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