Outline of civil law (common law)

Civil law branch of the law. In common law countries such as England, Wales, and the United States, the term refers to non-criminal law. The law relating to civil wrongs and quasi-contracts is part of the civil law. The law of property is embraced by civil law. Civil law can, like criminal law, be divided into substantive law and procedural law. The rights and duties of individuals amongst themselves is the primary concern of civil law. It is often suggested that civil proceedings are taken for the purpose of obtaining compensation for injury, and may thus be distinguished from criminal proceedings, whose purpose is to inflict punishment. However, exemplary or punitive damages may be awarded in civil proceedings.

What type of thing is civil law?

Civil law (in common law countries) can be described as all of the following:

  • Branch of law dealing with non-criminal cases

Branches of civil law

Substantive civil law

Substantive law

Procedural civil law

Procedural law

History of civil law


  • Lawsuit suit, action, or cause instituted or depending between two private persons in the courts of law.

Civil procedure

Civil procedure – body of law that sets out the rules and standards that courts follow when adjudicating civil lawsuits (as opposed to procedures in criminal law matters). These rules govern how a lawsuit or case may be commenced, what kind of service of process (if any) is required, the types of pleadings or statements of case, motions or applications, and orders allowed in civil cases, the timing and manner of depositions and discovery or disclosure, the conduct of trials, the process for judgment, various available remedies, and how the courts and clerks must function.

Civil procedure by region

Civil law publications

  • Journal of Tort Law

Persons influential in civil law

See also

  • Outline of law


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