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Why Is Civil Law Better Than Common Law?

Arguing that civil law is superior to common law involves considering the characteristics that distinguish civil law systems and the advantages these characteristics can provide. Civil law, known for its comprehensive codification of statutes and principles, offers a different set of benefits compared to the case-based common law system. Below are several reasons why some may view civil law as being better than common law.

Clarity and Accessibility

One of the primary advantages of civil law is its clarity and systematic organisation. Because laws are codified in comprehensive legal codes, individuals and businesses can more easily understand their rights and obligations. This accessibility is particularly beneficial for non-lawyers, as the law is laid out in written statutes that are designed to be clear and understandable. This can reduce the uncertainty and complexity often associated with legal matters.

Predictability and Stability

The codification of laws in civil law systems contributes to a higher degree of predictability and stability. Since laws are explicitly written in codes, there is less room for interpretation compared to common law, where judicial decisions can significantly alter the application of the law. This predictability is crucial for economic activity, allowing businesses to plan their operations with a clearer understanding of the legal landscape.

Efficiency in Legal Proceedings

Civil law systems can offer greater efficiency in legal proceedings due to their reliance on written codes. Judges in civil law jurisdictions often have a more investigatory role, reducing the reliance on the adversarial process characteristic of common law systems. This can lead to faster resolution of cases, as the process is less dependent on the exchange between opposing parties and more focused on the judge's interpretation of the statutes.

Equality Before the Law

The emphasis on codified statutes in civil law systems aims to ensure that all individuals are treated equally before the law. By relying on written laws that apply universally, civil law systems strive to minimise the discretion of judges, thereby reducing the potential for unequal treatment. This focus on equality helps to maintain a consistent application of the law, regardless of the individuals involved.

Adaptability Through Legislation

While common law systems adapt through judicial decisions, civil law systems adapt through legislative processes. This method of legal evolution can be seen as a more democratic way to implement changes, as it involves elected representatives and allows for public debate and input. This can ensure that legal changes reflect the will of the populace, providing a direct link between the law and societal values.

Specialisation of Judges

Civil law systems often feature a pathway for judges that emphasises specialisation from an early stage in their careers. This specialisation can lead to a judiciary that is highly knowledgeable in specific areas of law, potentially increasing the quality of judicial decisions in complex cases.

Less Reliance on Legal Precedent

The lesser emphasis on legal precedent in civil law systems means that each case can be decided more on its own merits and according to the specific statutes that apply. This can prevent outdated precedents from unduly influencing current decisions, allowing the law to remain more closely aligned with the current legal codes and societal norms.

Nevertheless, it is important to note that the perceived superiority of civil law over common law depends on the context and criteria used for evaluation. While civil law systems offer the advantages of clarity, predictability, and efficiency, common law systems are praised for their flexibility and the depth of their legal precedents.

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