Common law


The common law or law of nations constitutes the set of modified norms from Roman law that reached the Middle Ages.

This common law began to take shape from the 12th century and ended in the mid-14th century. Roman law returns to the European legal scene after centuries of normative dispersion, but it does not return in the form of a normative code, but translators known as glossers reunified Roman norms with a specific technique.

This glossing technique consisted of modifying words to help people's understanding and to clarify possible doubts. Likewise, there were commentators who not only modified the original text for easy understanding, but also added comments that enriched these norms to adapt it to their social reality. From this enrichment of law, common law began to spread throughout Europe.

This right begins to be applied by the judges, to be collected in more complete codes and to be a supplementary right in many cases.

Common law features

The main characteristics of this right are:

  • It was born in the Middle Ages, although its base is in Roman times.
  • It is a modification of the Roman texts for easy understanding by the people.
  • The role of interpreters and commentators is essential for the birth and consolidation of this right.
  • Commenters update the law by giving it a practical approach.
  • It is the general law and is known as the ius commune.
  • Its main foundation is in the compilation of Roman law made by the Emperor Justinian and known as the Digest or the corpus iuris civile.
  • Its origin is in Italy, in the school of Bologna.
  • Today civil law is known as common law. This is the case, for example, with commercial law, when it cannot be applied due to the lack of an express norm, common law is used and this refers to civil law.

Protagonists of the modifications and interpretations

The two figures that made possible the birth of this right and with it the revaluation of the set of rules of Roman law were:

  • Glossers or interpreters: They sought to clarify the literal meaning of the Roman rule. Thus the school of glossers was created.
  • Commentators: They expanded the written rule, trying to apply that rule to a practical case. These commenters do not intend to clarify the standard, but rather to put it into practice.

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