Compare and Contrast of Existing Legal Systems

Compare and Contrast of Existing Legal Systems

  • Common and Civil Law Systems






Despite their varying cultures and customs, almost all countries have laws governing torts, contracts, employment, and other areas.  Two types of legal systems predominate around the globe today.  One is the common law system of England, the United States, Australia, Canada and most former British Commonwealth countries.  The other system is based on Roman civil law, which relies on the legal principles enacted into law by a legislature or governing body (think France, Italy, and even the State of Louisiana).


  • Legal Systems Today

Although national law systems share many commonalities, they also have distinct differences.  In a civil law system, the primary source of law is a statutory code, and case precedents are not judicially binding, as they normally are in a common law system.  Although judges in a civil law system commonly refer to previous decisions as sources of legal guidance, those decisions are not binding precedents (stare decisis does not apply).






  • Islamic Legal System









A third, less prevalent legal system is common in Islamic countries, where the law is often influenced by sharia, the religious law of Islam.  Islam is both a religion and a way of life. Sharia is a comprehensive code of principles that governs the public and private lives of Islamic persons and directs many aspects of their day-to-day lives, including politics, economics, banking, business law, contract law, and social issues.


Although sharia affects the legal codes of many Muslim countries, the extent of its impact and its interpretation vary widely.  In some Middle Eastern nations, aspects of sharia have been codified in modern legal codes and are enforced by national judicial systems.


Question Presented

Does the civil law system offer any advantages over the common law system, or vice versa?  What about the Islamic legal system?  Please Explain.