from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The system of laws originated and developed in England and based on court decisions, on the doctrines implicit in those decisions, and on customs and usages rather than on codified written laws.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals (also called case law), as distinguished from legislative statutes or regulations promulgated by the executive branch.
  • n. typically in the phrase "common law system" -- a legal system that gives great precedential weight to common law (in sense 1), as opposed to a civil law, Islamic law, and Soviet law systems.
  • n. typically in the phrase "common law jurisdiction" -- a jurisdiction that uses a common law system (in sense 2), United Kingdom and most of its former colonies and possessions, including the United States.
  • n. (archaic) one of two legal systems in England and in the United States before 1938 (the other being "equity").

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. a system of jurisprudence developing under the guidance of the courts so as to apply a consistent and reasonable rule to each litigated case. It may be superseded by statute, but unless superseded it controls.
  • n. See under Common.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. based on common law
  • n. (civil law) a law established by following earlier judicial decisions
  • n. a system of jurisprudence based on judicial precedents rather than statutory laws


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