What is the opposite of common law?
When someone asks what the opposite of common law is, he probably does not understand what the phrase means. When common law is used as an adjective, such as common-law marriage, there is an opposite to that phrase. When a person uses the phrase to refer to a specific legal system, there is not an opposite to it. There are different types of legal systems in use around the world. Two major types are used in the Western Hemisphere, particularly in Europe and North America. Countries in Asia use their own legal systems based on centuries of tradition.
Europe – Roman Law Being Used as Model
Roman law, based on codes and jurisprudence was used as a model. It remained in full effect in parts of Europe until the fall of Constantinople. Western Europe would use it in some parts up until the Seventh Century. Local customs replaced the codification and legal structures set down by the Romans during the Middle Ages. The condition continues to this day. The emergence of the European Union has created a need for a standard system of law across Europe. Concepts from Roman law are now being used as a model.
Common Law is based on precedents. The actions taken by the legislature matter, but the rule of the courts has been to interpret the law. If a particular court rules one way, future courts are expected to rule the same way until a court at an equal or higher level overturns itself. Common law also follows customs laid down. Common Law developed in England when the systems of Roman Law and the Anglo-Saxon traditions started to merge. Central to Common Law is the idea that a client in a criminal trial is innocent until proven guilty.