Many people are confused about the differences between common law and civil laws. Common law is the body of laws a country has in place. While this type of law is used in many different areas, it is often criticized because judges cannot be elected by citizens and are not accountable to the public. Some people even feel that common law is undemocratic, and many of these opinions have been reflected in the media.
Common law has many advantages. It provides consistency, but leaves room for innovation. There is more room for precedent-creating than in parliamentary law. Because it is more flexible and quicker to respond to changing social values and community expectations, it allows for quick change. It is also much less political, and judges can make these decisions when they review a single case. This means that common law can provide an excellent balance of legal protection and flexibility.
When did common law emerge? The common law of England dates back to 1066, and the Anglo-Saxons of the time developed a body of rules similar to those of Germanic peoples. Although many matters were governed by local customs, the church played a significant role in government. Crimes were treated as wrongs and victims were compensated. These rules were developed through the centuries to serve as guidelines for governing society.