What is Civil Law and what is the classification of civil law?

(1) Introduction:

Civil law deals with the mechanism through which actions of administrative authorities can be controlled. It chiefly regulates the relationship between the state and its subjects. It also provides the structure and functioning of the organs of states.

(2) Meaning of Law:

According to Oxford Dictionary of law “the law of particular state, now usually called Municipal Law”

(3) Definition:

Different jurists have given their definition some of them are as followings:

Salmond: Salmond says:

“Civil law is the law of land”.

Holland: According to Holland

“Civil law is positive law which is enforced by the land”

(4) Classification of civil law:

According to Salmond, law can be divided in to following two kinds.

  • (i) Special Law.
  • (ii) General Law.

(i) Special Law:

Special law consists of those rules, which are through true rules of law yet are not recognized and applied as matter of course. In fact it consists of those rules, which are specifically proved and brought to the notice of courts by the parties, which are interested in their recognition.

Kinds of Special Law:

According to Salmond there are six kinds of special laws and those are:

  • (a) Local law.
  • (b) Foreign law.
  • (c) Conventional law.
  • (d) Martial law.
  • (e) Prize law.
  • (f) Autonomic law.

(a) Local law:

In a particular locality, immemorial custom has force of law, within its territorial limits, it not only prevails over general law, but also derogates it. Courts are judicially ignorant of its existence. It is applied only when litigant, who wants to take advantage of it pleads and prove it.

(b) Foreign law:

In every state, foreign law is enforced according to that set of rules, which prescribes those circumstances in which foreign law is enforced. The courts of a state are bound by laws of the state. In some cases foreign law is also taken into consideration for dispensation of justice.

(c) Conventional law:

Conventional law has its source in the agreement of those who are subject to the agreement. It is both a source of legal rights and a source of law.

(d) Martial law:

When military authorities establish and maintain courts and these courts administer law, such law is called martial law. It can be used and understand in three different senses.

  • (d-i) Rules and regulations to govern military.
  • (d-ii) Rules during time of war
  • (d-iii) Threat to integrity of state

(d-i) Rules and regulations to govern military:

These are those rules which are to govern military itself these rules and regulations are to maintain discipline within army.

(d-ii) Rules during time of war:

Rule during time of war means those rules which are applied during the time of war on the enemy territory which the conquering army conquers and occupies. The territory in which these rules are enforced is situated outside the victorious state. In occupied territory victorious army can allow civil courts to perform their functions.

(d-iii) Threat to integrity of state:

When integrity of state is threatened by disorder or disturbance or civil war, chief of army imposes martial law in the state it can be explained in the following words:

  • (x) Constitution.
  • (y) Judicial system.
  • (z) Doctorine of necessity.

(x) Constitution:

The constitution of state is suspended in part or whole during martial law.

(y) Judicial system:

The judicial system of state is suspended in part or whole during martial law.

(z) Doctorine of necessity:

Doctorine of necessity is usually used to justify the imposition of martial law in the state. According to this doctorine, disordered and disturbed circumstances of the state make enforcement of martial law necessity.

(e) Prize law:

The law which is to regulate practice of capturing ships and cargos at sea during war, is called prize law. It is not only considered as civil law, but is also considered as international law.

(f) Autonomic law:

Autonomic law is meant that species of law which has its source in various forms of subordinate legislative authority possessed by private persons and bodies of persons. Autonomic laws are made by autonomous bodies for the government of their members.

(ii) General Law:

The second type of Civil law is general law. It includes those legal rules of which the courts take judicial notice and which are applied as matter of course in any case in which the appropriate subject matter is present. It can be explained in the following words.

  • (a) General application.
  • (b) Cases in which it is applicable
  • (c) According to Austin.
  • (d) Ordinary law of land. d.
  • (e) Law of realms.
  • (f) Enforcement.

(a) General application:

It is generally applicable.

(b) Cases in which it is applicable:

It is applied in all cases in which it is not specially excluded by proof that some other set of principles has better claim to recognition in the particular instance.

(c) According to Austin:

General law is considered as general rule of conduct, but is not practicable in every sphere of law.

(d) Ordinary law of land:

General law is considered as ordinary law of land.

(e) Law of realms:

It is also considered as law of realms.

(f) Enforcement:

Special condition is not required for its enforcement.

(5) Conclusion:

It can be finally stated that the classification of civil law is in two main classes, i.e. general law and special law. These law classes are further sub divided. Therefore we can say that civil law is the mother of all laws.

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