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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Legal systems of the world

The three major legal systems of the world today consist of civil law, common
law and religious law. However, each country State (law)) often develops
variations on each system or incorporates many other features into the system.

Civil law

Civil law is the most widespread system of law in the world. It is also known
as European Continental law. The central source of law that is recognised as
authoritative are codifications in a constitution or statute passed by
legislature, to amend a code. Civil law systems mainly derive from the Roman
Empire, and more particularly, the Corpus Juris Civilis issued by the Emperor
Justinian ca. 529AD. This was an extensive reform of the law in the Eastern
Empire, bringing it together into codified documents. Civil law today, in
theory, is interpreted rather than developed or made by judges. Only legislative
enactments (rather than judicial precedents) are considered legally binding.
However, in reality courts do pay attention to previous decisions, especially
from higher courts.

Scholars of comparative law and economists promoting the legal origins theory
usually subdivide civil law into three distinct groups:

French civil law: in France, the Benelux countries, Italy, Spain and former
colonies of those countries;

German civil law: in Germany, Austria, Croatia, Switzerland, Greece, Portugal,
Turkey, Japan, South Korea and the Republic of China;

Scandinavian civil law: in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Finland and Iceland
inherited the system from their neighbors.

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, however these do not amend a
collected and codified body of law. Common law comes from England and was
inherited by Commonwealth of Nations countries, and almost every former colony
of the British Empire (Malta and Scotland being exceptions). The doctrine of
stare decisis or precedent by courts is the major innovation and difference to
codified civil law systems.

Common law is currently in practice in Ireland, United Kingdom (excluding
Scotland), Australia, India, South Africa, Canada (excluding Quebec), Hong Kong
and the United States (excluding Louisiana) and many more places. In addition to
these countries, several others have adapted the common law system into a mixed
system. For example, Pakistan, India and Nigeria operate largely on a common law
system, but incorporate religious law.

In the European Union the Court of Justice takes an approach mixing civil law
(based on the treaties) with an attachment to the importance of case law. One of
the most fundamental documents to shape common law is the Magna Carta[2] which
placed limits on the power of the English Kings. It served as a kind of medieval
bill of rights for the aristocracy and the judiciary who developed the law.

Religious law

Religious law refers to the notion of a religious
system or document being used as a legal source. The use of religion for public
law has a static and unalterable quality, precluding amendment through
legislative acts of government or development through judicial precedent.

The main kinds of religious law are Halakha in Judaism, Sharia in Islam, and
Canon law in some Christian groups. In some cases these are intended purely as
individual moral guidance, whereas in other cases they are intended and may be
used as the basis for a country's legal system.

The Halakha is followed by orthodox and conservative Jews in both ecclesiastical
and civil relations. No country is fully governed by Halakha, but two Jewish
people may decide, because of personal belief, to have a dispute heard by a
Jewish court, and be bound by its rulings. Sharia Law governs a number of
Islamic countries, including Saudi Arabia and Iran, though most countries use
Sharia Law only as a supplement to national law. It can relate to all aspects of
civil law, including property rights, contracts or public law.

Canon law is not religious law, properly speaking, because it is not found in
revelation. Instead, it is seen as human law inspired by the word of God and
applying the demands of that revelation to the actual sitation of the church.
Canon law regulates the internal ordering of the Roman Catholic Church, the
Eastern Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion. Canon law is amended and
adapted by the legislative authority of the church, such as councils of bishops,
single bishops for their respective sees, the Pope for the entire Catholic
Church, and the British Parliament for the Church of England.

Law of AsiaThe Constitution of India is the longest written constitution for a country, containing 444 articles, 12 schedules, numerous amendments and 117,369 words.

The Law of Asia is undergoing rapid change and
modernisation, especially given the economic growth in China and India. Asian
countries share a substantial heritage with European law, whilst keeping their
own distinct identity.

Indian law refers to the system of law which
operates in India. It is largely based on English common law because of the long
period of British colonial influence during the British Raj period. Much of
contemporary Indian law shows substantial European and American influence.
Various acts and ordinances first introduced by the British are still in effect
in modified form today. During the drafting of the Indian Constitution, laws
from Ireland, the United States, Britain, and France were all synthesised to get
a refined set of Indian laws as it currently stands. Indian laws also adhere to
the United Nations guidelines on human rights law and environmental law. Certain
international trade laws, such as those on intellectual property, are also
enforced in India.

Indian civil law is complex, with each religion having its own specific laws
which they adhere to. In most states, registering of marriages and divorces is
not compulsory. There are separate laws governing Hindus, Muslims, Christians,
Sikhs and followers of other religions. The exception to this rule is in the
state of Goa, where a Portuguese uniform civil code is in place, in which all
religions have a common law regarding marriages, divorces and adoption.

United StatesFlag of the United States

The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising
fifty states, one federal district, and fourteen territories. The country is
situated almost entirely in the western hemisphere: its forty-eight contiguous
states and Washington, D.C., the capital district, lie in central North America
between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, bordered by Canada to the north and
Mexico to the south; the state of Alaska is in the northwest of the continent
with Canada to its east, and the state of Hawaii is in the mid-Pacific. U.S.
territories, or insular areas, are scattered around the Caribbean and Pacific.

At 3.7 million square miles (9.6 million km²) and with over 300 million people,
the United States is the third or fourth largest country by total area, and
third largest by land area and population. The United States is one of the
world's most ethnically diverse nations, the product of large-scale immigration
from many countries. Its national economy is the largest in the world, with a
nominal 2006 gross domestic product (GDP) of more than US$13 trillion.

The nation was founded by thirteen colonies of Great Britain located along the
Atlantic seaboard. Proclaiming themselves "states," they issued the Declaration
of Independence on July 4, 1776. The rebellious states defeated Britain in the
American Revolutionary War, the first successful colonial war of independence. A
federal convention adopted the current United States Constitution on September
17, 1787; its ratification the following year made the states part of a single
republic. The Bill of Rights, comprising ten constitutional amendments, was
ratified in 1791. In the nineteenth century, the United States acquired land
from France, Spain, Mexico, and Russia, and annexed the Republic of Texas and
the Republic of Hawaii. The American Civil War ended slavery in the United
States and prevented a permanent split of the country. The Spanish-American War
and World War I confirmed its status as a military power. In 1945, the United
States emerged from World War II as the first country with nuclear weapons and a
permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. The sole remaining
superpower in the post–Cold War era, the United States is perceived by many as
the dominant economic, political, cultural, and military force in the world.

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University around the World

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