Common law in England dates back to the early Middle Ages. The king’s court, a single royal court for most of England, was established near Westminster. The early common law was not based on substantive rights, but rather on procedural remedies. Later on, this changed, and the common law today prioritizes rights over procedural remedies. Judges in England and Wales developed common law until the late 19th century.
Before the Norman Conquest in 1066, the legal system in England was based on an ancient body of customary rules. These customs differed by region, so the common law of England developed from local, customary practices. The church was also influential in government, and crimes were treated as wrongs and victims were compensated. However, these practices did not exist in the modern legal system.
The common law provides a solution when statutory law does not. In such situations, judges refer to precedents – the judicial decisions of similar cases – to make a ruling. In essence, the common law gives us the answer when we don’t have a phone. If we don’t have a map, moss on trees can provide direction. If we don’t have a map, we can at least take a direction from the sun’s position.
The common law also refers to the body of law that is derived from past decisions. It is a body of law that is made by judges and applies across the country. The principle of binding precedent requires courts to apply previous decisions when making decisions. This rule is also known as stare decisis. The common law also has a long and interesting history. It originated with King Henry II in the 12th century.
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