Common law, also known as case law, arises
when new decisions are made by judges in courts. On the other hand Statutory Law, also known
as written law, is the one which is set down by a legislature. Common law tend to be instructive
in nature while Statutory Law is prescriptive. In the case of Common law a judge refers to
similar cases in the past and makes a decision. In some cases, the judgment passed by the
judge becomes the new law. Hence you can have pure common law, where the judgment passed
becomes the new law, provided there are no existing statutes applicable. On other hand
you can also have interstitial common law where the judge interprets the existing law
and determines distinctions and boundaries. Precedent is a key factor in common law. The
English common law originated in the Middle Ages. Currently one third of the world’s population,
that’s about 2 and half billion people, live in common law jurisdictions.
I should also mention here that even though Statutory Laws are passed by the legislature,
they are subjected to the higher constitutional laws.
One other point I should mention here is about civil law legal systems, which are based on
Roman law. Here, codes and statutes are designed to cover all possibilities and judges have
a more restricted role of applying the law. So to summarize — Common law relies on judgments
passed by judges and statutory law deals with statutes passed by legislature. A Common law
system gives significant importance to judges and their judgments; while Civil law system
relies on codes that are framed to cover all cases. Though many people live in common law
jurisdictions, according to the CIA World Fact book 150 countries follow civil law system
and 80 follow common law systems. If you like this video, please like and share.
Thanks for watching.