Civil Law: Definition, Meaning, Systems, Examples

Introduction Civil Law

A set of valid rules, statutes, and precedents that govern a certain area or territory is called law. The main purpose of the law is to provide justice. The severity of certain offenses determines the level of punishment. There are two different types of law: civil law and criminal law. Civil law is concerned with circumstances in which an individual is wronged, whereas offenses against society as a whole are covered by criminal law. Negligence and breach of contract are the most common civil wrongs. The origin of civil and criminal legislations can be traced back. Civil law was historically used in French, Dutch, German, Spanish, and Portuguese colonies. Civil law is a codified collection of legal norms or rules that originated in Europe. The essential concepts are written down so that they become the primary source of law. Legal ideas derived from judgments given by the judges form the basis of common-law regimes. These precedents hold weight. In India, the concept of civil law has been around for a long time. Manu was the one who put together India’s legal system. The legal provision is found in his massive work “Manava Dharma Shastra.” The Vedas, on the other hand, include the concept of justice. Essential features of the civil law system are:
1) Civil Laws are a set of legal laws that have been codified.
2) The codified Law has a binding effect on everyone. In civil courts, there is little room for judge-made law. However, the judges stick to the precedents when it comes to the practical side of things.
3) Legal scholars’ writings have a significant influence on the courts.

Civil Law: Nature and Definition

Civil Law Nature and Definition

The law of the state, or the land law, is known as civil law. It is the field of law and justice that impacts a person’s legal standing. The term “civil law” comes from the Latin phrase “jus civili,” which means “law of the Civitas,” or “law of the state.” This area of law deals with the rights, responsibilities, and obligations of individual members of society towards one another. This law is also referred to as municipal law. Medieval jurists referred to civil law as “jus positivum,” which means “positive law made by humans against the law made by God.” Because it deals with the law in its current context, it is classified as positive law. Civil law encompasses a wide range of topics, including property, contract, tort, family, trade, intellectual property, and the environment, among others.

The goal of Civil Law is to correct the wrongs or settle disputes in a friendly manner. If any harm occurs, the party is entitled to compensation from the wrongdoer. In Civil Law, a conflict begins when a party files a complaint against the other. The victim/injured is entitled to compensation under civil law for their harm. For example, in a road accident, the victim/injured person may sue the driver for damages for loss or harm experienced in the accident, and Civil Law will govern the case.

Civil law deals with conflicts between private parties and also with conflicts arising because of people’s careless behaviors that cause harm to others. For example, suppose two parties disagree over the terms of a contract. In that case, the ownership or possession of a property or the unjust firing of a person from his job, the aggrieved party may seek remedies under Civil Law by petitioning the court to resolve the dispute. Similarly, suppose someone fails to exert the amount of prudence that a normally sensible person would apply in any situation to avoid any form of negligent behavior in that case, the other party may seek civil law remedies from the court. The essential premise is that if a person’s legal right is violated, the violation is actionable, regardless of whether the plaintiff has experienced any actual harm. A person may be held liable for any losses or injuries inflicted due to his wrongful act, depending on the circumstances and the gravity of the situation.

Disputes involving family concerns, such as marriage, divorce, maintenance, inheritance, succession, and property partition between spouses, constitute a significant portion of civil law disputes. The applicant in a civil lawsuit is known as the plaintiff, and the other side is known as the defendant or respondent. The courts have the authority to dismiss a matter if it is judged to be without merit or to order the losing party to compensate the aggrieved party for the damages they have experienced. Unless the government is a party, the state has no role to play in civil matters.

Contributory Negligence

Contributory Negligence

The term “contributory negligence” refers to negligence in which both the plaintiff and the defendant are involved. Such negligence is the fault of both the ‘plaintiff’ and the ‘defendant’ as both the parties have contributed to the same. However, it must be determined who is more responsible for the harm created by such carelessness.

For example, the plaintiff untied his dog’s forefeet rope and let it run on the highway. The defendant’s careless driving hurts the dog. The defendant had the chance to avoid the collision by being more careful had the defendant not driven his automobile carelessly, the collision would have been avoided. As a result, the defendant was accountable for the plaintiff’s dog’s harm, even if the plaintiff was partially at fault.

Rights Recognized Under Civil Law

Rights Recognized Under Civil Law

A legal right is a legal interest that is recognized and protected. Only when an interest is recognized by suitable bodies does it become a right. The four main components of a legal right are as follows:
(i) The person in whose possession the right is vested in the right’s owner.
(ii) The person who has this right bears the appropriate obligations or duties.
(iii) The act or forbearance to which the individual is entitled.
(iv) The subject matter of the said right.

To be successful in a Civil Law lawsuit, the ‘plaintiff’ must show that they suffered legal harm due to a breach of their legal rights. Even if the plaintiff has suffered a loss, there may be no action under Civil Law unless a legal right has been violated. The maxim ‘damnum sine injuria’ explains this. While on the other end, the plaintiff has experienced no loss, but their legal right has been infringed, the wrongful act is actionable, and the plaintiff can be compensated. The maxim ‘injuria sine damno’ explains the same.

Branches of Civil Law System

Branches of Civil Law System

Disagreements between people and institutions are understandable in a civil society. As a result, civil laws are created to provide an unbiased court system for settling disputes. Civil laws cover a wide range of topics. The following are some of India’s civil laws: family law, tort law, media law, sports law, etc.

Law of Contract

The most important branch of mercantile law is Contract Law. Contracts are intended to be fulfilled, but if one of the parties fails to fulfill their obligations mentioned in the contract, the aggrieved party may seek the appropriate remedy or remedies outlined in the act.

Thousands of contracts are made every day, hence the Indian Contract Act of 1872 is extremely important. The act contains all of the laws governing valid agreements. The act’s principal goal is to ensure that agreements made in everyday life comply with the act, and all the agreements are carried out in the best interests of the parties involved. Also, in a breach of contract, the aggrieved party has legal recourse through the Court of Law.

Law of Torts

Tort law comes under the law of obligations. The law requires you to refrain from causing harm to another person, and, if harm is caused, it gives you the solution to repair or compensate for it. This rule is imposed not by consent but through the force of the general law. Tort’s social function is to shift a person’s loss to the person who is judged to have caused or has been accountable for it and spread the loss over an enterprise or even the entire community somehow. A tort is regarded as a type of ‘Civil Wrong’ distinct from other types of ‘Civil Wrongs,’ such as a violation of contract or breach of trust. As a result, all Torts are Civil Wrongs, but not all Civil Wrongs are Torts.

Family Law

India as a country is diverse when it comes to culture and religion. Each religion has its own rules for marriage, divorce, child support, property division, inheritance, and succession. Hindus, for example, are directed by Hindu Law, whereas Muslims are guided by Mohammedan Law, Parsis by Parsi Law, and so on.

Property Law

Property Law is concerned with the laws that govern the transfer of both moveable and immovable assets. Not like the Transfer of Property Act of 1882, which contains provisions for the sale, lease, mortgage, and transfer of immovable properties as well as a few provisions for the transfer of movable properties, the Sale of Goods Act of 1930 contains only provisions for the transfer of movable properties, except for actionable claims and money.


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