Common Law

Search Dictionary

Definition of 'Common Law'

Common law is a body of law that is based on the customs and traditions of a particular country or region. It is not codified, meaning that it is not written down in a single document, but rather it is derived from the decisions of judges in individual cases. Common law is often contrasted with statutory law, which is law that is written down in a statute or code.

Common law originated in England in the Middle Ages. It was developed by judges who decided cases based on their understanding of the customs and traditions of the community. Over time, these decisions became binding on other judges, and a body of common law developed.

In the United States, common law is the primary source of law. However, statutory law also plays an important role. Statutory law is enacted by the legislature, and it can override common law.

There are several advantages to common law. First, it is flexible and adaptable. It can be changed to reflect the changing needs of society. Second, it is based on the customs and traditions of the community, which gives it legitimacy in the eyes of the people. Third, it is relatively easy to understand and apply.

There are also some disadvantages to common law. First, it can be complex and difficult to understand. Second, it can be inconsistent, as different judges may reach different conclusions in similar cases. Third, it can be slow to change, as it takes time for new cases to be decided and for the law to evolve.

Despite these disadvantages, common law remains an important source of law in the United States. It provides a flexible and adaptable system of law that is based on the customs and traditions of the community.

Do you have a trading or investing definition for our dictionary? Click the Create Definition link to add your own definition. You will earn 150 bonus reputation points for each definition that is accepted.

Is this definition wrong? Let us know by posting to the forum and we will correct it.