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A code of law, also called a law code or legal code, is a type of legislation that purports to exhaustively cover a complete system of laws or a particular area of law as it existed at the time the code was enacted, by a process of
codification Codification may refer to: *Codification (law), the process of preparing and enacting a legal code *Codification (linguistics), the process of selecting, developing and prescribing a model for standard language usage *Accounting Standards Codificati ...
. Though the process and motivations for codification are similar in different
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority ...

common law
and
civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as England and Wales and the law of the United ...
systems, their usage is different. In a civil law country, a code of law typically exhaustively covers the complete system of law, such as civil law or
criminal law Criminal law is the body of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its env ...
. By contrast, in a common law country with legislative practices in the English tradition, modify the existing common law only to the extent of its express or implicit provision, but otherwise leaves the common law intact. A code entirely replaces the common law in a particular area, leaving the common law inoperative unless and until the code is repealed. In a third case of slightly different usage, in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
and other common law countries that have adopted similar legislative practices, a code of law is a standing body of statute law on a particular area, which is added to, subtracted from, or otherwise modified by individual legislative enactments.


History

The legal code was a common feature of the legal systems of the ancient Middle East. The UrukAgina Law Code (2380-2360 BC), which most probably is predated by older laws, which yet have to be discovered, the
Sumer Sumer ()The name is from Akkadian language, Akkadian '; Sumerian language, Sumerian ''kig̃ir'', written and ,approximately "land of the civilized kings" or "native land". means "native, local", iĝir NATIVE (7x: Old Babylonian)from ''The ...

Sumer
ian
Code of Ur-Nammu The Code of Ur-Nammu is the oldest known law code A code of law, also called a law code or legal code, is a type of legislation that purports to exhaustively cover a complete system of laws or a particular area of law as it existed at the time t ...
(c. 2100-2050 BC), , the Law Code of Eshnunna (approximately 100 years before Lipit-Ishtar), the Law Code of Lipit-Ishtar (1934-1924 BC), and the
Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Babil'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bavel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babili'' *Kassite The Kassites ...

Babylon
ian
Code of Hammurabi The Code of Hammurabi is a Babylonian legal text composed 1755–1750 BC. It is the longest, best-organised, and best-preserved legal text from the ancient Near East. It is written in the Old Babylonian dialect of Akkadian, purportedly by Ham ...

Code of Hammurabi
(''c.'' 1760 BC), are among the earliest and best preserved legal codes, originating from
Sumer Sumer ()The name is from Akkadian language, Akkadian '; Sumerian language, Sumerian ''kig̃ir'', written and ,approximately "land of the civilized kings" or "native land". means "native, local", iĝir NATIVE (7x: Old Babylonian)from ''The ...

Sumer
,
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...

Mesopotamia
(now
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...

Iraq
). In the
Roman empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman empire
, a number of codifications were developed, such as the
Twelve Tables The ''Law of the Twelve tables'' ( la, Leges Duodecim Tabularum or ) was the legislation that stood at the foundation of Roman law Roman law is the law, legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand y ...
of Roman law (first compiled in 450 BC) and the ''
Corpus Juris Civilis The ''Corpus Juris'' (or ''Iuris'') ''Civilis'' ("Body of Civil Law") is the modern name for a collection of fundamental works in jurisprudence Jurisprudence, or legal theory, is the theoretical study of the propriety of . Scholars of ...
'' of Justinian, also known as the Justinian Code (429 - 534 AD). However, these law codes did not exhaustively describe the Roman legal system. The Twelve Tables were limited in scope, and most legal doctrines were developed by the ''
pontifices A pontiff (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman R ...
'', who "interpreted" the tables to deal with situations far beyond what is contained therein. The Justinian Code collected together existing legal material at the time. In ancient
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
, the first comprehensive criminal code was the
Tang Code The ''Tang Code'' () was a penal code that was established and used during the Tang Dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural ...
, created in 624 AD in the
Tang Dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organiza ...
. This, and subsequent imperial codes, formed the basis for the penal system of both China and other East Asian states under its cultural influence. The last and best preserved imperial code is the
Great Qing Legal Code The Great Qing Legal Code (or Great Ching Legal Code), also known as the Qing Code (Ching Code) or, in Hong Kong law The law of Hong Kong is unique, being a common law system preserved, after the handover to China in 1997, within the civil law ...
, created in 1644 upon the founding of the
Qing Dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Pr ...
. This code was the exclusive and exhaustive statement of Chinese law between 1644 and 1912. Though it was in form a criminal code, large parts of the code dealt with civil law matters and the settlement of civil disputes. The Code ceased its operation upon the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1912, but significant provisions remained in operation in
Hong Kong Hong Kong (; , ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR), is a List of cities in China, city and Special administrative regions of China, special administrative region of China on the ...

Hong Kong
until well into the 1970s due to a peculiar interaction between it and the
British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories, and Crown Dependencies. ** Britishness, the British identity and common culture * British English, ...

British
common law system. In Europe,
Roman law Roman law is the law, legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables (c. 449 BC), to the ''Corpus Juris Civilis'' (AD 529) ordered by Eastern Roman emperor J ...
, especially the ''
Corpus Juris Civilis The ''Corpus Juris'' (or ''Iuris'') ''Civilis'' ("Body of Civil Law") is the modern name for a collection of fundamental works in jurisprudence Jurisprudence, or legal theory, is the theoretical study of the propriety of . Scholars of ...
'', became the basis of the legal systems of many countries. Roman law was either adopted by legislation (becoming
positive law Positive laws ( la, links=no, ius positum) are human-made laws that oblige or specify an action. Positive law also describes the establishment of specific rights for an individual or group. Etymologically, the name derives from the verb ''to posit ...
), or through processing by jurists. The accepted Roman law is usually then codified and forms part of the central Code. The codification movement gathered pace after the rise of
nation-state A nation state is a political unit where the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newsp ...
s after the
Treaty of Westphalia The Peace of Westphalia (german: Westfälischer Friede, ) is the collective name for two peace treaties signed in October 1648 in the Westphalian cities of Osnabrück Osnabrück (; wep, Ossenbrügge; archaic ''Osnaburg'') is a city in the ...
. Prominent national
civil code A civil code is a codification of private law relating to property law, property, family law, family, and law of obligations, obligations. A jurisdiction that has a civil code generally also has a code of civil procedure. In some jurisdictions w ...
s include the Napoleonic Code (''code civil'') of 1804, the
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
civil code A civil code is a codification of private law relating to property law, property, family law, family, and law of obligations, obligations. A jurisdiction that has a civil code generally also has a code of civil procedure. In some jurisdictions w ...
(''
Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch The ''Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch'' (, lit.: 'Civil Law Book'), abbreviated BGB, is the civil code of Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , languag ...
'') of 1900 and the Swiss codes. The European codifications of the 1800s influenced the
codification Codification may refer to: *Codification (law), the process of preparing and enacting a legal code *Codification (linguistics), the process of selecting, developing and prescribing a model for standard language usage *Accounting Standards Codificati ...
of
Catholic canon law The canon law of the Catholic Church (Latin for "canon law": ''ius canonicum'') is the system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, sur ...
resulting in the
1917 Code of Canon Law The 1917 Code of Canon Law (abbreviated 1917 CIC, from its Latin title ''Codex Iuris Canonici''), also referred to as the Pio-Benedictine Code,Dr. Edward Peters accessed June-9-2013 was the first official comprehensive codification Codification m ...
which was replaced by the
1983 Code of Canon Law The 1983 Code of Canon Law (abbreviated 1983 CIC from its Latin title ''Codex Iuris Canonici''), also called the Johanno-Pauline Code, is the "fundamental body of ecclesiastical laws for the Latin Church". It is the second and current comprehens ...
and whose Eastern counterpart is the
Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (Latin: ''Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium'', abbreviated CCEO) is the title of the 1990 codification of the common portions of the Canon Law Canon law (from grc, κανών, , a 'straight measuring ...
. Meanwhile,
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
n civilizations developed their own legal traditions, sometimes codifying them through consistent oral tradition, as illustrated e.g. by the
Kouroukan Fouga According to the ''Epic of Sundiata'', Kouroukan Fouga or Kurukan Fuga was the constitution of the Mali Empire created after the Battle of Krina (1235) by an assembly of nobles to create a government for the newly established empire. According to ...
, a
charter A charter is the grant of authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It is a social scie ...
proclaimed by the
Mali Empire The Mali Empire ( Manding: ''Mandé''Ki-Zerbo, Joseph: ''UNESCO General History of Africa, Vol. IV, Abridged Edition: Africa from the Twelfth to the Sixteenth Century'', p. 57. University of California Press, 1997. or Manden; ar, مالي, Mā ...
in 1222-1236, enumerating regulations in both constitutional and civil matters, and transmitted to this day by
griot A griot (; ; : jali or jeli (in : , ''djeli'' or ''djéli'' in French spelling); : kevel or kewel / okawul;. Regional Office for Education in Africa, ''Educafrica, Numéro 11'', (ed. Unesco, Regional Office for Education in Africa, 1984), p. ...

griot
s under oath. The Continental civil law tradition spread around the world along with European cultural and military dominance in recent centuries. During the
Meiji Restoration#REDIRECT Meiji Restoration The , referred to at the time as the , and also known as the Meiji Renovation, Revolution, Reform, or Renewal, was a political event that restored practical imperial rule to Japan in 1868 under Emperor Meiji. Although t ...
,
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...

Japan
adopted a new
Civil Code A civil code is a codification of private law relating to property law, property, family law, family, and law of obligations, obligations. A jurisdiction that has a civil code generally also has a code of civil procedure. In some jurisdictions w ...

Civil Code
(1898), based primarily on the French civil code and influenced by the German code. After the
Xinhai Revolution The 1911 Revolution, also known as the Chinese Revolution or the Xinhai Revolution, ended China's last imperial dynasty, the Manchu-led Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last Dynasties in Chinese hi ...
of 1911 in China, the new
Republic of China Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. It shares Maritime boundary, maritime borders with the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the sout ...
government abandoned the imperial code tradition and instead adopted a new
civil code A civil code is a codification of private law relating to property law, property, family law, family, and law of obligations, obligations. A jurisdiction that has a civil code generally also has a code of civil procedure. In some jurisdictions w ...
strongly influenced by the German ''
Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch The ''Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch'' (, lit.: 'Civil Law Book'), abbreviated BGB, is the civil code of Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , languag ...
'', and also influenced by the Japanese code. This new tradition has been largely maintained in the legal system of the
People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

People's Republic of China
since 1949. Meanwhile, codifications also became more common in
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority ...
systems. For example, a
criminal code A criminal code (or penal code) is a document that compiles all, or a significant amount of, a particular jurisdiction's criminal law Criminal law is the body of law that relates to crime. It proscribes conduct perceived as threatening, ha ...
is found in a number of common law jurisdictions in
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
and the
Americas The Americas (also collectively called America) is a landmass comprising the totality of North America, North and South America. The Americas make up most of the land in Earth's Western Hemisphere and comprise the New World. Along with th ...

Americas
, and continues to be debated in
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...

England
. In the Americas, the influence of Continental legal codes has manifest itself in two ways. In civil law jurisdictions, legal codes in the Continental tradition are common. In common law jurisdictions, however, there has been a strong trend towards codification. The result of such codification, however, is not always a legal code as found in civil law jurisdictions. For example, the
California Civil CodeThe Civil Code of California is a collection of statuteA statute reffers to the body of law that are made by legislature of the nation with instrument which govern the state, country or any nation. it includes laws, rules and the reulation whichhas t ...
largely codifies common law doctrine and is very different in form and content from all other civil codes.


Civil code

A
civil code A civil code is a codification of private law relating to property law, property, family law, family, and law of obligations, obligations. A jurisdiction that has a civil code generally also has a code of civil procedure. In some jurisdictions w ...
typically forms the core of
civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as England and Wales and the law of the United ...
systems. The legal code typically covers exhaustively the entire system of private law. Civil codes are always also found in common especially in the
United States of America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States of America
. However, such civil codes are often collections of common law rules and a variety of ''ad hoc'' statutes; that is, they do not aspire to complete logical coherence.


Criminal code

A
criminal code A criminal code (or penal code) is a document that compiles all, or a significant amount of, a particular jurisdiction's criminal law Criminal law is the body of law that relates to crime. It proscribes conduct perceived as threatening, ha ...
or
penal code A criminal code (or penal code) is a document that compiles all, or a significant amount of, a particular jurisdiction's criminal law Criminal law is the body of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting o ...
is a common feature in many legal systems. Codification of the criminal law allows the criminal law to be more accessible and more democratically made and amended.


See also

*
Code (cryptography) In cryptology, a code is a method used to encrypt a message A message is a discrete unit of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning among Subject (phil ...
*
Genetic code The genetic code is the set of rules used by living cell (biology), cells to Translation (biology), translate information encoded within genetic material (DNA or Messenger RNA, mRNA sequences of nucleotide triplets, or codons) into proteins. Tran ...

Genetic code
*
Language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the ...

Language
*
Legal code (municipal) in the cable tray In the electrical wiring of buildings, a cable tray system is used to support insulated electrical cable An electrical cable is an assembly of one or more wires running side by side or bundled, which is used to carry electr ...
*
List of national legal systems The contemporary national legal systems are generally based on one of four basic systems: civil law, common law, statutory law, religious law Religious law includes ethical and moral codes taught by religious traditions. Different religio ...
* List of U.S. state statutory codes *
Source code In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and development of both computer hardware , hardware and ...

Source code
*
Swedish Code of Statutes The Swedish Code of Statutes ( sv, Svensk författningssamling; SFS) is the official law code of Sweden Sweden (; sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic countries, Nordic country ...
*
Visigothic Code The cover of an edition of the Liber Iudiciorum from 1600. The Visigothic Code ( la, Forum Iudicum, Liber Iudiciorum; es, Libro de los Jueces, Book of the Judges), also called ''Lex Visigothorum'' (English: Law of the Visigoths), is a set of laws f ...


References

van Gulik, R.H. ''Crime and Punishment in Ancient China: The Tang Yin Pi Shih''. Orchid Press, 2007.,


External links


Codex Iustinianus
Site ''The Roman Law Library''
Code of Laws of the United States of America
(US Code) ''law.cornell.edu''

''napoleon-series.org''
contemporary French law codes
''legifrance.gouv.fr''
Louisiana Civil Code
''legis.state.la.us''

(2013 Ed.) ''cga.ct.gov'' {{Authority control Civil law (legal system) Sources of law