Throughout history, law has been used to establish a common language for interpreting human relationships. Law is defined as a system of rules and regulations that are enforceable through social institutions, such as courts and governmental agencies. Law is a tool that shapes history, politics, and economics. Several legal systems exist in the United States.
Common law is a legal system that relies on statutes, court decisions, and detailed records of past situations. It is often seen as inflexible and rigid.
Case law is a system of law that is based on court decisions and regulations. A judge determines which precedents will be applicable to a particular case. The authority of a specific case depends on the age of the decision and its proximity to the facts.
The system of common law was initially developed in England. Over time, the system became inflexible and rigid. It made it difficult for marginalized groups to obtain favorable rulings.
The United States operates under a dual system of common and civil law. Common law legal systems explicitly acknowledge the decisions made by the executive branch.
Civil law systems are more streamlined. They generally contain fewer judicial decisions and are shorter in duration.
Common law legal systems are sometimes called case law, but they are often used interchangeably. Both systems share many features, however.
Common law legal systems are generally distinguished from civil law systems by their doctrine of precedent. This doctrine means that court decisions by higher courts bind lower courts. However, lower courts can deviate from a precedent if the case is substantially different.