What is Civil Law? Simply put, it is a legal system that was originally inspired by the ancient Romans, and the system of legality that they had in place. It is primarily a collection of laws that have been codified. Although commonly in use today, specifically within the United States of America among others, it has a far reaching history that stems backward for thousands of years.
The derivation of this system of laws and regulations is generally a reflection of the Romans. Their justice system was famed, and even today, greatly emulated within the most famous democracies in the world. Its use of codification is a technique that dates back for thousands of years. The ancient kingdom of Babylon were among the very first to codify their laws under the reign of King Hammurabi.
Codifying the laws of a nation, city or county is merely putting it into a classified order. To list them logically, numbered, and so on. However, the main purpose of civil laws are to provide the public with access to its regulations that pertain to and govern them. In this way, it is more difficult for someone to be arrested without a cause, because even the smallest of men have an understanding of the system of justice that reigns over him.
This system was originally derived from the Law of Justinian, or Corpus Juris Civilis. It is a collection of works that pertain to jurisprudence, penned from the years 529 to 534. As ancient as these are, they were the foundation for many that many future nations were soon to follow. The Eastern Roman Emperor, Justinian the First, commissioned his Tribonian, or Court Official to oversee the task.
The Tribonian and his team worked to edit the laws and introduce new facets that they believed would improve it. Once finished, the works were distributed throughout the entire kingdom in Latin. It was surely a surprise for the lowliest class of people living in that time. Suddenly they could read the laws for themselves and understand justice without depending on a translation or a petty claim that some wrongdoing had been committed. It was made available for all eyes to see.
Codification aside, this system is a legal code; a collection of laws that are designed to deal with private law matters in a comprehensive way. It is made to preserve peace and justice by enforcing punishment on offenders of the code. Over the years, it has been pointed out that this system was possibly the foundation for laws that concerned Socialism. One only needs to tweak the system, making it stricter, more regulatory, to impose a system that implements a more controlling nature.
In the Western hemisphere, the concept of Civil Law was well known. Immigrants from the East brought these ideas to their new home in America. Colonial expansion caused the idea to expand farther, and no doubt had a profound, if not subconscious effect in the shaping of that particular young nation when the time came for them to create their laws.
In short, the contribution of the centuries and the ancient kingdoms of the earth have all contributed to the modern legal systems that we are familiar with today. Their mistakes and triumphs were the blueprints younger, newer nations needed to have in order to make their justice more exact, and of course, more just.