• Codification
  • Retribution (eye for an eye)
  • Patriarchal
  • All Babylonians Subject to the law
  • King is above the law
  • Very harsh and cruel
  • Son gets hand cut off if strikes father, not mother
  • Doctor gets hand cut off if surgery goes wrong
  • Death for those who lie is court


  • Many laws similar to code of Hammurabi (killing, adultery and perjury are still forbidden)
  • Basis of Jewish and Christian faiths
  • Restitution to victim (civil court today)
  • Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mt. Sinai
  • Those who steal must repay the victim for goods stolen.
  • Democratic ideals in political and legal system
  • Limited democracy – citizenship limited to native-born men over age of 18; women, slaves and foreigners were excluded
  • Trials by jury of fellow citizens; could include 100s of people
  • Jury acted as judge
  • Charter; s.3 – right to vote
  • S. 11 guarantees right to trial by jury
  • Created a legal profession and trained scholars
  • Justinian Code – emperor Justinian had all the laws of the time collected and organized into one manageable code
  • Presumption of innocence and no one is above the law
  • Basis of modern day lawyers
  • Codes adopted
  1. BRITISH – Feudalism
  • It is a system of government where the king divides the land among his lord and nobles who will provide him with military service
  • The lords and nobles have vassals who do the work on the land, give produce to them and can provide military service
  • The king appointed judges who travel throughout England and listen to cases.
  • Judges met regularly in London to discuss cases and share experiences
  • The decisions that traveling judges made became the basis of English common law
  • It was a very fair system as it replaced the arbitrary judgments that lords had made over their vassals in the past.
  1. Precedent
  • a legal case establishing a principle or rule that a court utilizes when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts.
  • A Precedent was created every time the decision about a case became common knowledge in the English legal community
  • Stare Decisis – stand by the decision; requires than a precedent be considered when ruling on a case with similar facts.
  • Initially precedents were unwritten
  • This system was considered to be an improvement over the right of a lord to judge cases however he chose
  • Appeals to decisions were allowed
  • Precedent introduces a degree of certainty in the law as lawyers can examine similar cases and expect a somewhat similar result.
  1. Case law
  • As the number of judges and cases increased, recording decisions became necessary
  • Cases began to be recorded and published in paper and electronic form
  • Now recorded cases are given a title called a citation to make it easy to find in a law library
  1. The Rule of Law
  • Many kings felt they were above the law but the Magna Carta in 1215 established that everyone was equal under the law and had to obey the law
  • Equality became important for the first time
  • People had legal rights
  • No person cold be imprisoned without a court appearance within a reasonable time (Habeas Corpus)
  • In Canada every dispute must be settled by peaceful means, either by discussion and negotiation or by due process in the courts
  • The Rule of Law brings order to people’s lives by preventing the use of violence and the abuse of human rights
  1. Statute Law
  • Parliament was created to help make laws and reduce the amount of power the king had
  • When common law and case law cannot provide answers, parliament makes laws to fill in the gaps
  • Members of the public could now read the laws and know what they said
  • Parliament is seen as the institution that represents the wishes of the people
  • This was an important step in the development of democracy
  • Canada’s substantive law represents common law decisions and statute laws passed by government
  • French civil code – rooted in Roman law
  • Quebec employs civil law system – civil code of Quebec
  • Judges base decisions on the code and interpretations of the code by scholars rather than precedent

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment