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Definition of Common Law

Common law is case law which is established by precedent developed by judges through historical decisions. Common law varies from laws established through statutes or regulations issued by the executive branch or the federal or state legislatures.

Common laws are case-based reasoning. If a case is similar to another case than any past cases are valuable for providing a basis for a future court decisions. The strength of the similarity among the cases strengthens the reasoning for the similar decisions. Common laws apply within a jurisdiction and are created by a judge's writings or legal decisions.

Common law was established under the British legal system and many countries which were previously British colonies have maintained this type of common law system. Common law is used to evaluate civil cases or torts which can include medical malpractice, personal injury, divorce cases, contract disputes and product liability cases.

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