“What is a common law partner?” is a question that appears more frequently as people navigate the European legal systems’ complex worldwide.
With a multitude of legal systems throughout the world, and with countries such as the UK having multiple systems existing within, it can be difficult to know where to start when understanding the Law.
This article will explore what a common-law partner is and the key differences between Common Law and Civil Law.
Let’s get into it!
Do Common Law Partners Work In The UK?
The UK is mostly a Common Law country, and the Law is very similar in England, Wales, and Ireland and follows a Common Law outline. Scotland has a different system named ‘Scots Law’, which comprises a blend of both Common Law and Civil Law.
Therefore, a Scottish partner will have to work with an understanding of both types of legal systems and will often participate in cases that cover both.
In Scotland, Common Law mainly covers criminal cases in which a jury and Judge preside over the hearing. Civil Law is used for offenses such as debt collection, in which one might appear at the Sheriff’s Court.
What Is Common Law?
Common Law is a legal system representing the Law of the courts as expressed in judicial decisions. This means that in a common law case, judges will decide on cases based on past decisions and individual histories rather than stature (as in Civil Law).
Common Law often involves trial by jury, which means a jury of non-involved individuals will be able to vote on whether or not they think someone should be convicted. This prevents any bias on the part of the Judge, creating a system that allows for the defendant to tell their story to a court, and allows the public to judge if, or how severely, they should be penalized for their actions.
Where Did Common Law Come From?
Common Law originated in England in the centuries following the Norman Conquest in 1066. It was named Common Law as it was ‘common’ to all of the king’s courts at the time of its invention. Common Law was later spread across the colonies during the British Empires’ rule, many of which have kept the system in place post-decolonization.
On the other hand, Civil Law was invented by the Romans and was used to govern the countries they arrived in during their invasions of Europe, including the Roman Conquest of Britain in AD 43.
What Is A Common Law Partner?
A Common Law partner is someone with a license to practice Common Law. In the UK, you will find that most qualified lawyers can be classed as Common Law partners.
What Is The Difference Between Common Law and Civil Law?
Common Law and Civil Law are different legal systems with similar principles.
Though there are more legal systems in place around the world, such as Socialist Law (which is often used closely with Civil Law principles, for example, in Cuba) and Religious Law (seen in countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, and Yemen, which govern using Islamic Law), Common and Civil are most commonly compared due to their similarities.
The key difference between the two is that Civil Law operates under more strict written laws and principles, and it comes from a much older framework put in place by the Romans and uses ‘codified stature’ to govern.
Common Law takes a more individualistic approach to each case and is often referred to as ‘Case Law’. It looks at every case differently and is less restricted by set rules and distinctions.
What Is The Role Of The Judge In Common Law vs Civil Law?
The role of the Judge differs quite a lot between Common Law and Civil Law. Some of the key differences in the Judge’s role include:
- Common Law – The Judge is there to set a precedent and guide the case. The lawyers will do most of the investigating, and the Judge will ensure these remain under control. While a jury normally decides if someone is guilty, a judge can judge their punishment.
- Civil Law – The Judge is the ‘chief investigator’; they are there to establish the facts of the case, make rulings and decide charges.
The key difference here is that the Judge has more personal power in a Civil Law case, and they will use evidence from previous cases as a precedent for how to rule on a new one. In a Common Law case, the Judge plays a smaller part in the investigation instead of prompting the lawyers to get the information they need to help the jury make an educated decision.
Is Common Law Better Than Civil Law?
Technically speaking, there is no better legal system. However, Common Law is often praised for being more individualistic – allowing the defendant a greater opportunity to state their case and more flexibility around certain guidelines. Civil Law is often seen as being more rigid and allowing less space for human error.
What Is ‘Supremacy Of The Law’?
‘Supremacy of the law‘ was a legal term that meant that not even the ruler of a country (such as the king or queen) was above the ruling of the legal system. Today, it is broadened to mean that acts of government and government officials are also subject to penalization by the legal system, just as any other ordinary citizen would be.
Common Law is a useful legal system as it prioritizes a fair trial and allows all parties to speak their side of the case. We hope this article has helped solidify your understanding of the legal systems in the UK and how a Common Law partner may operate.
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