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Butler Journal of Undergraduate Research

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Civil And Common Law: A Historical Analysis Of Colonial And Postcolonial Canada, Patrick S. Stroud Apr 2015

Civil And Common Law: A Historical Analysis Of Colonial And Postcolonial Canada, Patrick S. Stroud

Butler Journal of Undergraduate Research

Legal historians divide European law into two principal families: common law (British law) and civil law (continental European law). Common law judges favor cases; courts “discover” law on a case-by-case basis and those cases make precedents for future ruling. Civil law courts favor codes; courts compare cases to existing laws and those laws control judges’ rulings. The two rarely interact, save one prominent example: Canada. British common law supposedly superseded French legal traditions in colonial Canada. But is history so binary? Did British common law truly “conquer” French civil law? Through analysis of Canadian legal history, this article demonstrates how ...