Sunday, December 27, 2009
In my English for Lawyer classes, I always begin with an introduction to US law.
US jurisprudence springs from English common law or the part of the English law not embodied in legislation.
Common law consists of rules of law, developed after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 by William of Orange, based on common custom and usage (hence its name) and on judicial (court) decisions (precedent).
As the court system became established under Henry II in the 12th century, and judges' decisions became recorded in law reports, the doctrine of precedent developed. Precedent obliges judges to earlier court decisions to form opinions of current cases.
Hence, common law (sometimes called ‘case law’ or ‘judge-made law’) keeps the law in harmony with the needs of the community where no legislation is applicable or where the legislation requires interpretation.
The US legal system is an adversarial in contrast to Roman law which is referred to as inquisitorial. A subsequent post explores Roman law and compares and contrasts the two systems.
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