1.a What is the meaning of the term common law and what are the characteristics of a common law system?
Throughout the world there are two types of legal systems; common and civil law. The most prevalent is the Civil law system, which grew from Roman law. The less frequently occurring of the two systems is the Common Law system, with only 27% of the world’s 320 legal jurisdictions using Common Law.
Common law can refer to any legal jurisdiction that is using the English system.
Common law is case law, a more flexible system of law by contrast to civil law. Judge decided case law is the foundation of the common law system, meaning that common laws are of the courts, or judges’ creation. The Judges interpret statute created by parliament.
The term common law can also mean that it is for everyone, that nobody is above the law. After the Norman conquest of 1066, a system of law, which was applicable across England, to every citizen regardless of social status, began to be established. This foundation of law became common to the whole of England and as a result representatives from London, Judges, were sent on circuits to establish the system, and apply the same laws equally to all members of the state.
Common law can also mean Equity. The common law was not all encompassing; there were holes in the common law, which were eventually filled by equity, for example, the law of trusts. Equity is a concept of law, which has fairness as a cornerstone and is best understood through maxims such as “equity will not suffer a wrong to be without a remedy” or “ he who comes to equity must come with clean hands”.
Two courts in London marked the growth of common law and a centralised, supreme legal system; the Court of the exchequer a...
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