Meaning of the expression "Common Law"


Whether one is immersed in the study of a civil law system or a common law system, a question that may arise is just what does the expression "common law" mean. This is a question I have examined in the context of teaching a course in the "Historical Foundations of the Common Law" in which one arguably needs to begin with some sense of the meaning of "common law" if one is to examine its historical foundations. As I will explain in an opening twenty to thirty minute talk, this expression has been given several different meanings. Although I am not an expert of any kind on civil law traditions, I will present some of the typical alleged differences between the civil law tradition and the common law tradition and critique those alleged differences from my study and experience in the common law context. I hope this will provide an opportunity for all of us from different legal traditions to engage, with a critical eye, on these and other differences between common law and civil law.


This is the first event of the Comparative Law Series organized by the UVic Graduate Student Law & Society Research Group


Common Law; Meaning; Legal History