Common law is the body of law developed from the thirteenth century to the present day, as case law or precedent, by judges, courts, and tribunals. In cases where the parties disagree on what the law is, if a similar dispute has been resolved in the past, the court is usually bound to follow the reasoning used in the prior decision. Resolution of the issue in one case becomes precedent that binds future courts, stare decisis, the principle that cases should be decided according to consistent principled rules so that similar facts will yield similar results, lies at the heart of all common law systems. A common law system is a system that gives great precedential weight to common law. Common law systems originated during the Middle Ages in England, today, one third of the worlds population live in common law jurisdictions or in systems mixed with civil law. The term common law has many connotations, the first three set out here are the most-common usages within the legal community. Other connotations from past centuries are seen, and are sometimes heard in everyday speech. Blacks Law Dictionary, 10th Ed. gives as definition 1,1, the body of law derived from judicial decisions, rather than from statutes or constitutions, CASELAW, STATUTORY LAW. In this connotation, common law distinguishes the authority that promulgated a law. e, examples include most criminal law and procedural law before the 20th century, and even today, most contract law and the law of torts. Interstitial common law decisions that analyze, interpret and determine the fine boundaries. Publication of decisions, and indexing, is essential to the development of common law, while all decisions in common law jurisdictions are precedent, some become leading cases or landmark decisions that are cited especially often. Blacks 10th Ed. definition 2, differentiates common law jurisdictions, by contrast, in civil law jurisdictions, courts lack authority to act if there is no statute. Judicial precedent is given less weight, which means that a judge deciding a given case has more freedom to interpret the text of a statute independently. For example, the Napoleonic code expressly forbade French judges to pronounce general principles of law. As a rule of thumb, common law systems trace their history to England, blacks 10th Ed. definition 4, differentiates common law from equity. This split propagated to many of the colonies, including the United States, for most purposes, most jurisdictions, including the U. S. federal system and most states, have merged the two courts. Additionally, even before the courts were merged, most courts were permitted to apply both law and equity, though under potentially different procedural law. In the United States, determining whether the Seventh Amendments right to a jury trial applies or whether the issue will be decided by a judge, the standard of review and degree of deference given by an appellate tribunal to the decision of the lower tribunal under review
Nomination of Oliver Wendell Holmes to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, 1902.
Nomination of Benjamin Cardozo to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, 1932.