What is Common Law?

By Schonauer Law on Mar 22, 2018 at 01:26 AM in What Does it Mean

What is Common Law?

Common law is best described as oral tribal justice established in England thousands of years ago that continues to this day.  Prior to the common law was the Anglo-Saxon law, consisting of the written laws promulgated by the King, written statements relating to custom contained in such books as the Domesday Book or Book of Winchester, and other written legal rules and enactments.  The common law of England was largely created in the period after the Norman Conquest of 1066. 


Common law developed orally on a case by case basis over hundreds of years and eventually formed a written body of law.  The common law of England was the law of the land in the American colonies, and continues in the United State to this day, except for Louisiana, which follows the Napoleonic Code or French civil code.

Common Law in California

The common law of England is the rule of decision in all the courts of California, so far as it is not in conflict, incompatible, or inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of California, or the codified law of California.  In many states, codified law is strictly construed in favor of preserving vestiges of the common law.  In California however, codified law is liberally construed and when there is doubt, the common law is retired to history.