Civil Law: Meaning and Examples

The ancient Roman Law Corpus Juris Civilis presented civil law as a system of codified law (meaning Body of Civil Law). It is a collection of jurisprudential legal writings that Justinian I, a Byzantine Emperor, ordered to be published between 527 and 565 AD. It is also referred to as the Justinian Code. Tribonian, a well-known judge at Justinian's Court in Constantinople, oversaw its creation. The ideas of Corpus Juris Civilis subsequently later spread throughout all of Europe. Even if its influence has diminished from its heyday, it continues to be the foundation for contemporary civil law systems all over the world.

Meaning of Civil Law

Meaning can be described as −

  • Pertaining to residents' individual rights − Civil law, as previously mentioned, only concerns itself with citizens' private rights. It refers to disagreements involving any kind of legal responsibility or relationship between two or more people or legal bodies. Residents of a certain state benefit from it because it enforces loyalty through the court system.

  • Codification − Almost always, civil laws consist of a body of codified laws. A codified civil law is composed of a number of broad rules in the form of articles that are adaptable enough to be used in specific situations. However, such an application calls for judicial interpretation, taking into account the "spirit" of the code.

The following benefits arise from the codification of civil laws −

In a legal system, it establishes greater legal certainty. It makes studying laws easier because specific provisions can be easily and methodically remembered and applied; it can be easily amended in accordance with the changing needs of the state; and it is clear and specific, in contrast to hazy customary laws, thereby increasing citizens' trust in the judiciary.

The area of law known as “civil law” is immensely comprehensive and deals with a wide range of problems involving people' rights and obligations.

Examples of Civil Law

Following are the major examples of civil law

Contract Law

A subset of civil law known as contract law is responsible for regulating, upholding, and interpreting contracts involving the exchange of products, services, assets, or money. In addition to outlining the contracting parties' legal obligations and rights, it also outlines the injured party's options for redress. The contract law also specifies the methods by which the remedies may be used. The Indian Contracts Act, 1872, which governs contract law in that country, defines a contract as "an arrangement enforceable by law" (Section 2(h)).

Real Estate Law

The area of civil law known as property law and it deals with the property of citizens. It establishes limitations on residents’ access to and use of their own property as well as their rights with regard to other people’s property. Real and personal property are the two main categories of property. Moving and physical (or intangible) goods such as stocks, furniture, and vehicles are referred to as personal property. Real property includes movables like land, structures, etc. The Transfer of Property Act, 1882, the Indian Contract Act, 1872, the Indian Easement Act, 1882, and others are some of the acts that govern property law in India.

Family Law

The relationships and exchanges between members of a given family are governed by family law. In terms of divorce, marriage, adoption, maintenance, and other issues, it outlines the rights and obligations of family members. The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, Indian Christian Marriage Act of 1872, Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act of 1939, Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act of 2019, and others are some of the statutes governing family law in India.

Tort Law

Tort literally means ‘civil wrong.’ So, if a person negligently or intentionally (sometimes) harms another person, in terms of causing bodily injury or damaging property, then that person is liable to pay the damages to plaintiff. The law regulating such civil wrong, is known as tort law.

Company Law

Corporate laws regulate the rights and obligations relating to how corporate entities, or firms, operate. The creation, dissolution, investments, and other activities of the corporation are governed by the corporate section of civil law. The Companies Act of 1956, the Sale of Goods Act of 1930, the Indian Partnership Act of 1932, and others are a few statutes that deal with corporate law.

Legal Administration

Ivor Jennings claims that administrative law is what establishes the structure, authority, and responsibilities of administrative authorities. It has to do with how the government's executive branch runs. Although it is typically not codified, there are specialized courts or tribunals for situations involving administrative law.


The body of regulations governing citizens' civil rights is known as civil law. There have long been discussions of creating a single civil code for all of India's citizens, regardless of caste, religion, gender, etc. Although "one country, one rule" is a directive principle of state policy as stated in Article 44 of the Constitution of India, 1949, it is incredibly difficult to implement in India due to the vast diversity of its population. Despite the diversity of its civil laws, India demonstrates a near-perfect example of "unity in diversity."

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What civil code?

Ans. Any statute (usually codified) that contains civil laws pertaining to corporations, families, etc. is referred to as a civil code.

Q2. Is slander a matter of civil or criminal law?

Ans. Both. Defamation is a type of tort under civil law and the only available remedy is monetary compensation. In India, the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (referred to as "the Code"), which is divided into Sections 499 and 500, governs defamation as a crime. Under the Code, criminal defamation is punishable by either a fine or two years of simple imprisonment, or by either one or the other.

Updated on: 04-Apr-2023


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