Map of Legal Systems
→ Common Law
: Common law and equity are systems of law whose sources are the decisions in cases by judges. Alongside, every system will
have a legislature that passes new laws and statutes. Originating from England, most anglo-saxon countries have adopted the Common Law system ( ex :
England, Australia, USA).
→ Civil Law
: Civil law is the most widespread system of law around the world. It is also sometimes known as Continental European law. The
central source of law that is recognized as authoritative are codifications in a constitution or statute passed by legislature, to amend a code. While
the concept of codification dates back to the Code of Hammurabi in Babylon ca. 1790 BC, civil law systems mainly derive from the Roman Empire, and
more particularly, the Corpus Juris Civilis issued by the Emperor Justinian ca. 529 AD. This was an extensive reform of the law in the Byzantine
Empire, bringing it together into codified documents. Civil law today, in theory, is interpreted rather than developed or made by judges. Originating
mainly from the Roman empire, civil law is used in a widespread area of the European continent, in countries like France, Spain, and Germany.
→ Religious Law
: Religious law refers to the notion of a religious system or document being used as a legal source, though the methodology
used varies. For example, the use of Jewish Halakha for public law has a static and unalterable quality, precluding amendment through legislative acts
of government or development through judicial precedent; Christian Canon law is more similar to civil law in its use of civil codes; and Islamic
Sharia law (and Fiqh jurisprudence) is based on legal precedent and reasoning by analogy (Qiyas
), and is thus considered similar to common law.
There are also other systems that are mixed together, such as civil law/common law, civil law/religious law and common law/religious law ( systems
known as being Bijuridical).
These legal systems are the result of history, and as we all know, history is forever being changed. What will happen in the future ? Will human
migration, along with it's religious beliefs, change legal systems across the world ? Will the democratic regime, promoting the voice of the ''
people '' through a majority prevail, and give the people what it wants, or give the upper hand to those who outnumber the rest ? Will Justice and
human nature change law ?
D-Polycentric Law versus Monopolistic Statutory Law
As mentioned in the introduction, Polycentric Law is the overlapping/existence of different legal systems in a given territory ; Monopolistic
Statutory Law is where only one legal system exists. We are familiar nowadays with a state using one defined set of rules/defined system ( therefore
having a monopoly over law). Here's a quick historical look at France through the Middle Ages and the Ancien Régime ( 14th - 18th century).
Example used : France from 476 to 1789 : From Polycentric to Monopolistic.
From 476 to 987, the Merovingian and Carolingian dynasties ruled what we now call France, but which was called back then La Gaulle
Gaul). The fall of the Roman empire was largely caused by the growing influences of Christianity and Gaulle's neighbour, Germania ; In 476, the
Merovingians took control. Towards the middle of the 8th century, the Pippinides, an influencial and very large aristocratic family that had already
forged important relations with the Church seized power of Gaul, after the pope deposed the Merovingian Childéric III
; in november of 751,
Pépin le Bref
became King, marking the start of the Carolingian Rule, which lasted until 987.
Now before all of this, most of France used Roman Law, and traces of it can still be seen today in most central European countries. But with the ever
increasing conflicts between the Franks and the Germanic Tribes, Germanic law ( based on traditions and customs, therefore being Customary Law) began
to change and mutate the Roman legal system in regions where the germanics had settled. During the rule of the two dynasties from 476 to 987, La
( Royal Law) was used by the Merovingian and Carolingian rulers. During the latter's rule, most Germanic Laws were modified and
changed to suit the Frankish people.
Towards the end of the 10th century, Ancient Gaul was faced with a dilemma that was all too familiar : the rise of rich and powerful aristocratic
families who over the years and through their jobs gained more and more power ( for example, some important political jobs were made hereditary,
allowing a father to pass on his job to his son and keep the power in the family).
From the 10th century to the 13th century, Gaul was divided into numerous '' mini-kingdoms'' if you will, ruled by various lords and lieges of
power. This is where things get interesting : what was once a '' state '' ruled by a certain singular law, was now a puzzle consisting of jigsaw
pieces of adjacent systems with different rules and regulations. This is indeed a fine example of polycentric law.
From the 13th century onwards, the state and the King affirmed their power over the people, and the various lands ruled by different leaders were
reunited : Royal Law came back into existence, but the customs of each region that once were during the past few centuries didn't fade, as people
were used to them. That means that a lot of different laws were all thrown together and mixed up, resulting in 4 major types of Law : Royal Law,
Customary Law, Roman Law and Canonical Law ( it's also worth mentioning the influence of Jurisprudence during this time). What's even more
interesting is that the main mission of the King during this period was to guard and protect the customs of each region ; moreover, the Church had a
specific role, which was to deem which customs were morally acceptable, and those that weren't. As you can see, each system influenced another.
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