Montreal is the most populous municipality in the Canadian province of Quebec and the second-most populous municipality in Canada. Called Ville-Marie, or "City of Mary", it is named after Mount Royal, the triple-peaked hill in the heart of the city; the city is centred on the Island of Montreal, which took its name from the same source as the city, a few much smaller peripheral islands, the largest of, Île Bizard. It has a distinct four-season continental climate with cold, snowy winters. In 2016, the city had a population of 1,704,694, with a population of 1,942,044 in the urban agglomeration, including all of the other municipalities on the Island of Montreal; the broader metropolitan area had a population of 4,098,927. French is the city's official language and is the language spoken at home by 49.8% of the population of the city, followed by English at 22.8% and 18.3% other languages. In the larger Montreal Census Metropolitan Area, 65.8% of the population speaks French at home, compared to 15.3% who speak English.
The agglomeration Montreal is one of the most bilingual cities in Quebec and Canada, with over 59% of the population able to speak both English and French. Montreal is the second-largest French-speaking city in the world, after Paris, it is situated 258 kilometres south-west of Quebec City. The commercial capital of Canada, Montreal was surpassed in population and in economic strength by Toronto in the 1970s, it remains an important centre of commerce, transport, pharmaceuticals, design, art, tourism, fashion, gaming and world affairs. Montreal has the second-highest number of consulates in North America, serves as the location of the headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organization, was named a UNESCO City of Design in 2006. In 2017, Montreal was ranked the 12th most liveable city in the world by the Economist Intelligence Unit in its annual Global Liveability Ranking, the best city in the world to be a university student in the QS World University Rankings. Montreal has hosted multiple international conferences and events, including the 1967 International and Universal Exposition and the 1976 Summer Olympics.
It is the only Canadian city to have held the Summer Olympics. In 2018, Montreal was ranked as an Alpha− world city; as of 2016 the city hosts the Canadian Grand Prix of Formula One, the Montreal International Jazz Festival and the Just for Laughs festival. In the Mohawk language, the island is called Tiohtià:ke Tsi, it is a name referring to the Lachine Rapids to the island's Ka-wé-no-te. It means "a place where nations and rivers unite and divide". In the Ojibwe language, the land is called Mooniyaang which means "the first stopping place" and is part of the seven fires prophecy; the city was first named Ville Marie by European settlers from La Flèche, or "City of Mary", named for the Virgin Mary. Its current name comes from the triple-peaked hill in the heart of the city. According to one theory, the name derives from mont Réal,. A possibility by the Government of Canada on its web site concerning Canadian place names, is that the name was adopted as it is written nowadays because an early map of 1556 used the Italian name of the mountain, Monte Real.
Archaeological evidence demonstrates that First Nations native people occupied the island of Montreal as early as 4,000 years ago. By the year AD 1000, they had started to cultivate maize. Within a few hundred years, they had built fortified villages; the Saint Lawrence Iroquoians, an ethnically and culturally distinct group from the Iroquois nations of the Haudenosaunee based in present-day New York, established the village of Hochelaga at the foot of Mount Royal two centuries before the French arrived. Archeologists have found evidence of their habitation there and at other locations in the valley since at least the 14th century; the French explorer Jacques Cartier visited Hochelaga on October 2, 1535, estimated the population of the native people at Hochelaga to be "over a thousand people". Evidence of earlier occupation of the island, such as those uncovered in 1642 during the construction of Fort Ville-Marie, have been removed. Seventy years the French explorer Samuel de Champlain reported that the St Lawrence Iroquoians and their settlements had disappeared altogether from the St Lawrence valley.
This is believed to be due to epidemics of European diseases, or intertribal wars. In 1611 Champlain established a fur trading post on the Island of Montreal, on a site named La Place Royale. At the confluence of Petite Riviere and St. Lawrence River, it is where present-day Pointe-à-Callière stands. On his 1616 map, Samuel de Champlain named the island Lille de Villemenon, in honour of the sieur de Villemenon, a French dignitary, seeking the viceroyship of New France. In 1639 Jérôme Le Royer de La Dauversière obtained the Seigneurial title to the Island of Montreal in the name of the Notre Dame Society of Montreal to establish a Roman Catholic mission to evangelize natives. Dauversiere hired Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve 30, to lead a group of colonists to build a mission on his new seigneury; the colonists left France in 1641 for Quebec, arrived on the island the following year. On May 17, 1642, Ville-Marie was founded on the southern shore of Montreal is
Ottawa is the capital city of Canada. It stands on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of southern Ontario. Ottawa borders Gatineau, Quebec; as of 2016, Ottawa had a city population of 964,743 and a metropolitan population of 1,323,783 making it the fourth-largest city and the fifth-largest CMA in Canada. Founded in 1826 as Bytown, incorporated as Ottawa in 1855, the city has evolved into the political centre of Canada, its original boundaries were expanded through numerous annexations and were replaced by a new city incorporation and amalgamation in 2001 which increased its land area. The city name "Ottawa" was chosen in reference to the Ottawa River, the name of, derived from the Algonquin Odawa, meaning "to trade". Ottawa has the most educated population among Canadian cities and is home to a number of post-secondary and cultural institutions, including the National Arts Centre, the National Gallery, numerous national museums. Ottawa has the highest standard of living in low unemployment.
With the draining of the Champlain Sea around ten thousand years ago, the Ottawa Valley became habitable. Local populations used the area for wild edible harvesting, fishing, trade and camps for over 6500 years; the Ottawa river valley has archaeological sites with arrow heads and stone tools. Three major rivers meet within Ottawa, making it an important trade and travel area for thousands of years; the Algonquins called the Ottawa River Kichi Sibi or Kichissippi meaning "Great River" or "Grand River". Étienne Brûlé regarded as the first European to travel up the Ottawa River, passed by Ottawa in 1610 on his way to the Great Lakes. Three years Samuel de Champlain wrote about the waterfalls in the area and about his encounters with the Algonquins, using the Ottawa River for centuries. Many missionaries would follow the early traders; the first maps of the area used the word Ottawa, derived from the Algonquin word adawe, to name the river. Philemon Wright, a New Englander, created the first settlement in the area on 7 March 1800 on the north side of the river, across from the present day city of Ottawa in Hull.
He, with five other families and twenty-five labourers, set about to create an agricultural community called Wrightsville. Wright pioneered the Ottawa Valley timber trade by transporting timber by river from the Ottawa Valley to Quebec City. Bytown, Ottawa's original name, was founded as a community in 1826 when hundreds of land speculators were attracted to the south side of the river when news spread that British authorities were constructing the northerly end of the Rideau Canal military project at that location; the following year, the town was named after British military engineer Colonel John By, responsible for the entire Rideau Waterway construction project. The canal's military purpose was to provide a secure route between Montreal and Kingston on Lake Ontario, bypassing a vulnerable stretch of the St. Lawrence River bordering the state of New York that had left re-supply ships bound for southwestern Ontario exposed to enemy fire during the War of 1812. Colonel By set up military barracks on the site of today's Parliament Hill.
He laid out the streets of the town and created two distinct neighbourhoods named "Upper Town" west of the canal and "Lower Town" east of the canal. Similar to its Upper Canada and Lower Canada namesakes "Upper Town" was predominantly English speaking and Protestant whereas "Lower Town" was predominantly French and Catholic. Bytown's population grew to 1,000 as the Rideau Canal was being completed in 1832. Bytown encountered some impassioned and violent times in her early pioneer period that included Irish labour unrest that attributed to the Shiners' War from 1835 to 1845 and political dissension evident from the 1849 Stony Monday Riot. In 1855 Bytown was incorporated as a city. William Pittman Lett was installed as the first city clerk guiding it through 36 years of development. On New Year's Eve 1857, Queen Victoria, as a symbolic and political gesture, was presented with the responsibility of selecting a location for the permanent capital of the Province of Canada. In reality, Prime Minister John A. Macdonald had assigned this selection process to the Executive Branch of the Government, as previous attempts to arrive at a consensus had ended in deadlock.
The "Queen's choice" turned out to be the small frontier town of Ottawa for two main reasons: Firstly, Ottawa's isolated location in a back country surrounded by dense forest far from the Canada–US border and situated on a cliff face would make it more defensible from attack. Secondly, Ottawa was midway between Toronto and Kingston and Montreal and Quebec City. Additionally, despite Ottawa's regional isolation it had seasonal water transportation access to Montreal over the Ottawa River and to Kingston via the Rideau Waterway. By 1854 it had a modern all season Bytown and Prescott Railway that carried passengers and supplies the 82-kilometres to Prescott on the Saint Lawrence River and beyond. Ottawa's small size, it was thought, would make it less prone to rampaging politically motivated mobs, as had happened in the previous Canadian capitals; the government owned the land that would become Parliament Hill which they thought would be an ideal location for the Parliament Buildings. Ottawa was th
In law, an appeal is the process in which cases are reviewed, where parties request a formal change to an official decision. Appeals function both as a process for error correction as well as a process of clarifying and interpreting law. Although appellate courts have existed for thousands of years, common law countries did not incorporate an affirmative right to appeal into their jurisprudence until the 19th century. Appellate courts and other systems of error correction have existed for many millennia. During the first dynasty of Babylon and his governors served as the highest appellate courts of the land. Ancient Roman law employed a complex hierarchy of appellate courts, where some appeals would be heard by the emperor. Additionally, appellate courts have existed in Japan since at least the Kamakura Shogunate. During this time, the Shogunate established hikitsuke, a high appellate court to aid the state in adjudicating lawsuits. In the Eighteenth century, William Blackstone observed in his Commentaries on the Laws of England that appeals existed as a form of error correction in the common law during the reign of Edward III of England.
Although some scholars argue that "the right to appeal is itself a substantive liberty interest", the notion of a right to appeal is a recent advent in common law jurisdictions. In fact, commentators have observed that common law jurisdictions were "slow to incorporate a right to appeal into either its civil or criminal jurisprudence". For example, the United States first created a system of federal appellate courts in 1789, but a federal right to appeal did not exist in the United States until 1889, when Congress passed the Judiciary Act to permit appeals in capital cases. Two years the right to appeals was extended to other criminal cases, the United States Courts of Appeals were established to review decisions from district courts; some states, such as Minnesota, still do not formally recognize a right to criminal appeals. Although some courts permit appeals at preliminary stages of litigation, most litigants appeal final orders and judgments from lower courts. A fundamental premise of many legal systems is that appellate courts review questions of law de novo, but appellate courts do not conduct independent fact-finding.
Instead, appellate courts will defer to the record established by the trial court, unless some error occurred during the fact-finding process. Many jurisdictions provide a statutory or constitutional right for litigants to appeal adverse decisions. However, most jurisdictions recognize that this right may be waived. In the United States, for example, litigants may waive the right to appeal, as long as the waiver is "considered and intelligent"; the appellate process begins when an appellate court grants a party's petition for review or petition for certiorari. Unlike trials, appeals are presented to a judge, or a panel of judges, rather than a jury. Before making any formal argument, parties will submit legal briefs in which the parties present their arguments. Appellate courts may grant permission for an amicus curiae to submit a brief in support of a particular party or position. After submitting briefs, parties have the opportunity to present an oral argument to a judge or panel of judges. During oral arguments, judges ask question to attorneys to challenge their arguments or to advance their own legal theories.
After deliberating in chambers, appellate courts will issue formal opinions that resolve the legal issues presented for review. When considering cases on appeal, appellate courts affirm, reverse, or vacate the decision of a lower court; some courts maintain a dual function, where they consider both appeals as well as matters of "first instance". For example, the Supreme Court of the United States hears cases on appeal but retains original jurisdiction over a limited range of cases; some jurisdictions maintain a system of intermediate appellate courts, which are subject to the review of higher appellate courts. The highest appellate court in a jurisdiction is sometimes referred to as a "court of last resort". Civil procedure List of legal topics Judicial review Appellate procedure in the United States Scope of review
Federalism is the mixed or compound mode of government, combining a general government with regional governments in a single political system. Its distinctive feature, exemplified in the founding example of modern federalism by the United States under the Constitution of 1787, is a relationship of parity between the two levels of government established, it can thus be defined as a form of government in which there is a division of powers between two levels of government of equal status. Federalism differs from confederalism, in which the general level of government is subordinate to the regional level, from devolution within a unitary state, in which the regional level of government is subordinate to the general level, it represents the central form in the pathway of regional integration or separation, bounded on the less integrated side by confederalism and on the more integrated side by devolution within a unitary state. Leading examples of the federation or federal state include India, the United States, Mexico, Germany, Switzerland and Australia.
Some today characterize the European Union as the pioneering example of federalism in a multi-state setting, in a concept termed the federal union of states. The terms'federalism' and'confederalism' both have a root in the Latin word foedus, meaning "treaty, pact or covenant." Their common meaning until the late eighteenth century was a simple league or inter-governmental relationship among sovereign states based upon a treaty. They were therefore synonyms, it was in this sense that James Madison in Federalist 39 had referred to the new US Constitution as'neither a national nor a federal Constitution, but a composition of both'. In the course of the nineteenth century the meaning of federalism would come to shift, strengthening to refer uniquely to the novel compound political form established, while the meaning of confederalism would remain at a league of states. Thus, this article relates to the modern usage of the word'federalism'. Modern federalism is a system based upon democratic rules and institutions in which the power to govern is shared between national and provincial/state governments.
The term federalist describes several political beliefs around the world depending on context. Federalism is sometimes viewed as in the context of international negotiation as "the best system for integrating diverse nations, ethnic groups, or combatant parties, all of whom may have cause to fear control by an overly powerful center." However, in some countries, those skeptical of federal prescriptions believe that increased regional autonomy is to lead to secession or dissolution of the nation. In Syria, federalization proposals have failed in part because "Syrians fear that these borders could turn out to be the same as the ones that the fighting parties have carved out."Federations such as Yugoslavia or Czechoslovakia collapsed as soon as it was possible to put the model to the test. According to Daniel Ziblatt's Structuring the State, there are four competing theoretical explanations in the academic literature for the adoption of federal systems: Ideational theories, which hold that a greater degree of ideological commitment to decentralist ideas in society makes federalism more to be adopted.
Cultural-historical theories, which hold that federal institutions are more to be adopted in societies with culturally or ethnically fragmented populations. "Social contract" theories, which hold that federalism emerges as a bargain between a center and a periphery where the center is not powerful enough to dominate the periphery and the periphery is not powerful enough to secede from the center. "Infrastructural power" theories, which hold that federalism is to emerge when the subunits of a potential federation have developed infrastructures. Immanuel Kant was an advocate of federalism, noting that "the problem of setting up a state can be solved by a nation of devils" so long as they possess an appropriate constitution which pits opposing factions against each other with a system of checks and balances. In particular individual states required a federation as a safeguard against the possibility of war. On the 1st of January 1901 the nation-state of Australia came into existence as a federation.
The Australian continent was colonised by the United Kingdom in 1788, which subsequently established six self-governing, colonies there. In the 1890s the governments of these colonies all held referendums on becoming the unified, self-governing "Commonwealth of Australia" within the British Empire; when all the colonies voted in favour of federation, the Federation of Australia commenced, resulting in the establishment of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. The model of Australian federalism adheres to the original model of the United States of America, although it does so through a parliamentary Westminster system rather than a presidential system. In Brazil, the fall of the monarchy in 1889 by a military coup d'état led to the rise of the presidential system, headed by Deodoro da Fonseca. Aided by well-known jurist Ruy Barbosa, Fonseca established federalism in Brazil by decree, but this system of government would be confirmed by every Brazilian constitution since 1891, although some of them would distort some of the federalist principles.
The 1937 federal government had the authority to appoint State Governors at will, thus centralizing power in the hands of P
Constitution Act, 1867
The Constitution Act, 1867 is a major part of Canada's Constitution. The Act created a federal dominion and defines much of the operation of the Government of Canada, including its federal structure, the House of Commons, the Senate, the justice system, the taxation system; the British North America Acts, including this Act, were renamed in 1982 with the patriation of the Constitution. Amendments were made at this time: section 92A was added, giving provinces greater control over non-renewable natural resources; the Act begins with a preamble declaring that the three provinces New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the Province of Canada have requested to form "one Dominion...with a Constitution similar in Principle to that of the United Kingdom". This description of the Constitution has proven important in its interpretation; as Peter Hogg wrote in Constitutional Law of Canada, some have argued that, since the United Kingdom had some freedom of expression in 1867, the preamble extended this right to Canada before the enactment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982.
In New Brunswick Broadcasting Co. v. Nova Scotia, the leading Canadian case on parliamentary privilege, the Supreme Court of Canada grounded its 1993 decision on the preamble. Moreover, since the UK had a tradition of judicial independence, the Supreme Court ruled in the Provincial Judges Reference of 1997 that the preamble shows judicial independence in Canada is constitutionally guaranteed. Political scientist Rand Dyck has criticized the preamble, saying it is "seriously out of date", he claims the Act "lacks an inspirational introduction". The preamble to the Act is not the Constitution of Canada's only preamble; the Charter has a preamble. Part I consists of just two sections. Section 1 gives the short title of the law as Constitution Act, 1867. Section 2 indicates that all references to the Queen apply to all her heirs and successors; the Act establishes the Dominion of Canada by uniting the North American British "Provinces" of Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia. Section 3 establishes that the union would take effect within six months of passage of the Act and Section 4 confirms "Canada" as the name of the country.
Section 5 lists the four provinces of the new federation. These are formed by dividing the former Province of Canada into two: its two subdivisions, Canada West and Canada East, renamed Ontario and Quebec become full provinces in Section 6. Section 7 confirms that the boundaries of New Brunswick are not changed, and Section 8 provides. Section 9 confirms that all executive powers remain with the Queen, as represented by the Governor General or an administrator of the government, as stated in Section 10. Section 11 creates the Queen's Privy Council for Canada. Section 12 states that the executive branches of the Provinces continue to exist and their power is exercised through the Lieutenant Governors, that the powers exercised by the federal government must be exercised through the Governor General, either with the advice of the privy council or alone. Section 13 defines the Governor General in Council as the Governor General acting with the advice of the Privy Council. Section 14 allows the Governor General to appoint deputies to exercise his powers in various parts of Canada.
The Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces in Canada continues with the Queen under Section 15. Section 16 declares Ottawa the capital of the new federation; the Parliament of Canada comprises the Queen and two chambers, as created by section 17. Section 18 defines its powers and privileges as being no greater than those of the British parliament. Section 19 states that Parliament's first session must begin six months after the passage of the Act and Section 20 holds that Parliament must hold a legislative session at least once every twelve months; the Senate has 105 Senators, most of whom represent one of four equal divisions: Ontario, the Maritime Provinces and the Western Provinces. Section 23 lays out the qualifications to become a Senator. Senators are appointed by the Governor General under Section 24, the first group of senators was proclaimed under section 25. Section 26 allows The Crown to add four or eight Senators at a time to the Senate, divided among the divisions, but according to section 27 no more senators can be appointed until, by death or retirement, the number of senators drops below the regular limit of 24 per division.
The maximum number of senators was set at 113, in Section 28. Senators are appointed for life, under Section 29, though they can resign under Section 30 and can be removed under the terms of section 31, in which case the vacancy can be filled by the Governor General. Section 33 gives the Senate the power to rule on its own disputes over vacancy; the Speaker of the Senate is appointed and dismissed by Governor General under Section 34. Quorum for the Senate is set at 15 senators by Section 35, voting procedures are set by Section 36; the composition of the Commons, under Section 37, consists of 30
Supreme Court of Canada
The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court of Canada, the final court of appeals in the Canadian justice system. The court grants permission to between 40 and 75 litigants each year to appeal decisions rendered by provincial and federal appellate courts, its decisions are the ultimate expression and application of Canadian law and binding upon all lower courts of Canada, except to the extent that they are overridden or otherwise made ineffective by an Act of Parliament or the Act of a provincial legislative assembly pursuant to section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The creation of the Supreme Court of Canada was provided for by the British North America Act, 1867, renamed in 1982 the Constitution Act, 1867; the first bills for the creation of a federal supreme court, introduced in the Parliament of Canada in 1869 and in 1870, were withdrawn. It was not until 8 April 1875 that a bill was passed providing for the creation of a Supreme Court of Canada. However, prior to 1949, the Supreme Court did not constitute the court of last resort: litigants could appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London.
As well, some cases could bypass the court and go directly to the Judicial Committee from the provincial courts of appeal. The Supreme Court formally became the court of last resort for criminal appeals in 1933 and for all other appeals in 1949; the last decisions of the Judicial Committee on cases from Canada were made in the mid-1950s, as a result of their being heard in a court of first instance prior to 1949. The increase in the importance of the Court was mirrored by the numbers of its members; the Court was established first with six judges, these were augmented by an additional member in 1927. In 1949, the bench reached its current composition of nine justices. Prior to 1949, most of the appointees to the Court owed their position to political patronage; each judge had strong ties to the party in power at the time of their appointment. In 1973, the appointment of a constitutional law professor Bora Laskin as chief justice represented a major turning point for the Court. In this period, appointees either came from academic backgrounds or were well-respected practitioners with several years experience in appellate courts.
Laskin's federalist and liberal views were shared by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who recommended Laskin's appointment to the Court. The Constitution Act, 1982 expanded the role of the Court in Canadian society by the addition of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which broadened the scope of judicial review; the evolution from the Dickson court through to the Lamer court witnessed a continuing vigour in the protection of civil liberties. Lamer's criminal law background proved an influence on the number of criminal cases heard by the Court during his time as chief justice. Nonetheless, the Lamer court was more conservative with Charter rights, with only about a 1% success rate for Charter claimants. Lamer was succeeded as chief justice by Beverly McLachlin in January 2000, she is the first woman to hold that position. McLachlin's appointment resulted in a more centrist and unified Court. Dissenting and concurring opinions were fewer than during the Lamer Courts. With the 2005 appointments of Justices Louise Charron and Rosalie Abella, the court became the world's most gender-balanced national high court, four of its nine members being female.
Justice Marie Deschamps' retirement on 7 August 2012 caused the number to fall to three, however the appointment of Suzanne Côté on 1 December 2014 restored the number to four. After serving on the Court for 28 years, 259 days, McLachlin retired in December 2017, her successor as chief justice is Richard Wagner. The structure of the Canadian court system is pyramidal, a broad base being formed by the various provincial and territorial courts whose judges are appointed by the provincial or territorial governments. At the next level are the provinces' and territories' superior courts, where judges are appointed by the federal government. Judgments from the superior courts may be appealed to a still higher level, the provincial or territorial courts of appeal. Several federal courts exist: the Tax Court of Canada, the Federal Court, the Federal Court of Appeal, the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada. Unlike the provincial superior courts, which exercise inherent or general jurisdiction, the federal courts' jurisdiction is limited by statute.
In all, there are over 1,000 federally appointed judges at various levels across Canada. The Supreme Court of Canada rests at the apex of the judicial pyramid; this institution hears appeals from the provincial courts of last resort the provincial or territorial courts of appeal, the Federal Court of Appeal, although in some matters appeals come straight from the trial courts, as in the case of publication bans and other orders that are otherwise not appealable. In most cases, permission to appeal must first be obtained from the court. Motions for leave to appeal to the Court are heard by a panel of three judges of the Court and a simple majority is determinative. By convention, this panel never explains why it grants or refuses leave in any particular case, but the Court hears cases of national importance or where the case allows the Court to settle an important issue of law. Leave is granted, meaning that for most litigants, provincial courts of appeal are courts of last resort, but leave to appeal is not required for some cases criminal cases and appeals from provincial references.
A final source of cases is the referral power of the federa
In law, common law is that body of law derived from judicial decisions of courts and similar tribunals. The defining characteristic of "common law" is. In cases where the parties disagree on what the law is, a common law court looks to past precedential decisions of relevant courts, synthesizes the principles of those past cases as applicable to the current facts. If a similar dispute has been resolved in the past, the court is bound to follow the reasoning used in the prior decision. If, the court finds that the current dispute is fundamentally distinct from all previous cases, legislative statutes are either silent or ambiguous on the question, judges have the authority and duty to resolve the issue; the court states an opinion that gives reasons for the decision, those reasons agglomerate with past decisions as precedent to bind future judges and litigants. Common law, as the body of law made by judges, stands in contrast to and on equal footing with statutes which are adopted through the legislative process, regulations which are promulgated by the executive branch.
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. The common law—so named because it was "common" to all the king's courts across England—originated in the practices of the courts of the English kings in the centuries following the Norman Conquest in 1066; the British Empire spread the English legal system to its historical colonies, many of which retain the common law system today. These "common law systems" are legal systems that give great precedential weight to common law, to the style of reasoning inherited from the English legal system. Today, one-third of the world's population lives in common law jurisdictions or in systems mixed with civil law, including Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Botswana, Cameroon, Cyprus, Fiji, Grenada, Hong Kong, Ireland, Jamaica, Liberia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Namibia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Tobago, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zimbabwe.
Some of these countries have variants on common law systems. 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 sometimes seen and are sometimes heard in everyday speech; the first definition of "common law" given in Black's Law Dictionary, 10th edition, 2014, is "The body of law derived from judicial decisions, rather than from statutes or constitutions. This usage is given as the first definition in modern legal dictionaries, is characterized as the “most common” usage among legal professionals, is the usage seen in decisions of courts. In this connotation, "common law" distinguishes the authority. For example, the law in most Anglo-American jurisdictions includes "statutory law" enacted by a legislature, "regulatory law" or “delegated legislation” promulgated by executive branch agencies pursuant to delegation of rule-making authority from the legislature, common law or "case law", i.e. decisions issued by courts.
This first connotation can be further differentiated into pure common law arising from the traditional and inherent authority of courts to define what the law is in the absence of an underlying statute or regulation. Examples include most criminal law and procedural law before the 20th century, today, most contract law and the law of torts. Interstitial common law court decisions that analyze and determine the fine boundaries and distinctions in law promulgated by other bodies; this body of common law, sometimes called "interstitial common law", includes judicial interpretation of the Constitution, of legislative statutes, of agency regulations, the application of law to specific facts. Publication of decisions, indexing, is essential to the development of common law, thus governments and private publishers publish law reports. While all decisions in common law jurisdictions are precedent, some become "leading cases" or "landmark decisions" that are cited often. Black's Law Dictionary 10th Ed. definition 2, differentiates "common law" jurisdictions and legal systems from "civil law" or "code" jurisdictions.
Common law systems place great weight on court decisions, which are considered "law" with the same force of law as statutes—for nearly a millennium, common law courts have had the authority to make law where no legislative statute exists, statutes mean what courts interpret them to mean. By contrast, in civil law jurisdictions, courts lack authority to act. Civil law judges tend to give less weight to judicial precedent, which means that a