It is fair to say that there is hardly any country in the world left where the private law (inparticular) is not in some way grounded in one or other of these two major legal families. Thisis true even where private law has been modified or varied through religious laws and localcustoms and practices. (Private law is that body of rules which affects the relations betweenprivate citizens. Public law is that body of rules which regulates the relations between theState and its citizens.)This part of the course will look at some of the legal systems, which belong to the CommonLaw and Civil Law families. We will also briefly consider some other legal systems fromelsewhere in the world, including the legal system of the People's Republic of China.The study of the various legal systems in the world is known as Comparative Law.For a littlemore than a century, legal theorists have examined the ways in which legal systems differfrom one another. Although some interest had earlier been taken in the ways in which legalsystems differed from each other, it was not until the late Middle Ages in Continental Europe,and the 1800s in England, that the legal systems of different countries were regarded asbeing acceptable subject matter for formal study. Things changed when the private laws of a number of European countries were codified.Detailed statutes called codes were drafted, relating to various areas of law such as civilprocedure, ownership and transfer of property, criminal law and eventually commercial law. Basically, the aim was to include in the codes provisions which set out in great detail therights and obligations of parties to transactions, which legally defined their relationships andwhich determined the manner in which wrongs could be redressed. The codes also set outexhaustive procedural provisions, which detailed the way in which legal activities were to beconducted. Since the codes were supposed to deal with every eventuality, if someone had agrievance against another person, or was unsure of their rights in a particular set ofcircumstances, the first place, indeed the only place, they could look to resolve their problem,was the code. The codification of French law under Napoleon Bonaparte in particular wasvery influential. It was through this codification process that the continental legal systems became associatedspecifically with the country in which they had been formulated. They were confined withinthe territorial borders of the country and reference was only made to the legal system ofanother country when that second country had based its code on that of the former country.Thus, the countries of Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Latin America and other countries that23
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CO5119:03 Business Law SUBJECT MATERIALS >>SCHOOL OF LAWJAMES COOK UNIVERSITYhad used the French Napoleonic Codes as the basis for their own codes, tended to orientthemselves according to the French legal system, while those countries which had based
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