From 529 to 534 AD the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I codified and consolidated Roman law up until that point, so that what remained was one-twentieth of the mass of legal texts from before. As one legal historian wrote, “Justinian consciously looked back to the golden age of Roman law and aimed to restore it to the peak it had reached three centuries before.” The Justinian Code remained in force in the East until the fall of the Byzantine Empire. Western Europe, meanwhile, relied on a mix of the Theodosian Code and Germanic customary law until the Justinian Code was rediscovered in the 11th century, and scholars at the University of Bologna used it to interpret their own laws. Both these codes influenced heavily not only the law systems of the countries in continental Europe (e.g. Greece), but also the Japanese and Korean legal traditions. Today, countries that have civil law systems range from Russia and Turkey to most of Central and Latin America. Civil law jurisdictions treat contracts differently in a number of respects, with a more interventionist role for the state in both the formation and enforcement of contracts.

  • The executive is led by the head of government, whose office holds power under the confidence of the legislature.
  • Suffolk University Law School offers flexible degree programs and a broad range of curricular opportunities that can prepare you for a diverse array of legal careers.
  • They argued it was necessary to kill the cabin boy to preserve their own lives.
  • Law practice also involves drafting documents such as court pleadings, persuasive briefs, contracts, or wills and trusts.
  • Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students.
  • All legal systems deal with the same basic issues, but jurisdictions categorise and identify their legal topics in different ways.

Another example of a trustee’s duty might be to invest property wisely or sell it. This is especially the case for pension funds, the most important form of trust, where investors are trustees for people’s savings until retirement. But trusts can also be set up for charitable purposes, famous examples being the British Museum or the Rockefeller Foundation.

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Writing in the early 20th century, Max Weber believed that a definitive feature of a developed state had come to be its bureaucratic support. The head of state is apart from the executive, and symbolically enacts laws and acts as representative of the nation. Examples include the President of Germany , the Queen of the United Kingdom , and the President of Austria . The other important model is the presidential system, found in the United States and in Brazil. In presidential systems, the executive acts as both head of state and head of government, and has power to appoint an unelected cabinet.

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Modern military, policing and bureaucratic power over ordinary citizens’ daily lives pose special problems for accountability that earlier writers such as Locke or Montesquieu could not have foreseen. The custom and practice of the legal profession is an important part of people’s access to justice, whilst civil society is a term used to refer to the social institutions, communities and partnerships that form law’s political basis. In common law legal systems, decisions by courts are explicitly acknowledged as “law” on equal footing with statutes adopted through the legislative process and with regulations issued by the executive branch. The “doctrine of precedent”, or stare decisis (Latin for “to stand by decisions”) means that decisions by higher courts bind lower courts, and future decisions of the same court, to assure that similar cases reach similar results. In order to maintain professionalism, the practice of law is typically overseen by either a government or independent regulating body such as a bar association, bar council or law society. There are few titles of respect to signify famous lawyers, such as Esquire, to indicate barristers of greater dignity, and Doctor of law, to indicate a person who obtained a PhD in Law.

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If a country has an entrenched constitution, a special majority for changes to the constitution may be required, making changes to the Law News more difficult. A government usually leads the process, which can be formed from Members of Parliament (e.g. the UK or Germany). However, in a presidential system, the government is usually formed by an executive and his or her appointed cabinet officials (e.g. the United States or Brazil). Examples include the Jewish Halakha and Islamic Sharia—both of which translate as the “path to follow”—while Christian canon law also survives in some church communities. Often the implication of religion for law is unalterability, because the word of God cannot be amended or legislated against by judges or governments.

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