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case lawlaws based upon the outcome of previous court cases which serve as a precedent in guiding the judgement of present court cases. Where important legal principles are involved in a particular court case, the plaintiff or defendant may appeal against the judgement of a court to a higher court such as the High Court and then the House of Lords in the UK and finally the European Court of Justice. Compare STATUTE LAW.
common lawthe body of law built up over many years as a result of previous court decisions interpreting legislation. These establish legal precedents that then need to be followed consistently in subsequent court cases. Compare STATUTE LAW.
A law derived from common usage, ancient customs, or the pronouncements and interpretations of courts.Contrast with code law,or civil law,which relies on statutory enactments for the articulation of rights and responsibilities, and then judicial interpretation of those statutes. English law,and almost all American law,is based on common law.The law in France is based on the Napoleonic code,and the law in Louisiana is based on that code also.(Because of the completely different underpinnings of Louisiana law,it is rare to find a lawyer or real estate agent outside the state who will offer an opinion regarding real estate law within the state.) When reading definitions of words,one should pay attention to whether the definition recites “at common law” or “at civil law.”