"Ignorance of the law excuses no man," as the popular saying goes. One of the most basic tasks of citizens is to familiarize themselves with the laws of the society that they are a part of in order to avoid any unintentional law breaking act. In the study of law, there are various sub-branches that specifically cater to a particular need. Civil law is one of the most common, yet easily misunderstood branches of law today. It is therefore important to take a moment to know more about civil law as well as the other legal processes that have to do with it.
Definition and Types. Civil law is the system of law that deals primarily with the resolution of disputes or problems that are non-criminal by nature such as contract laws, consumer laws, employment laws, family laws, sports laws, tax laws and also some international torts like assault or slander. As much as possible, all these cases are settled in a civil court in a peaceful manner as supervised by respectable civil attorneys. It is the civil law, which mediates these simple law cases and the individuals involved in these suits in order to come up with a peaceful, unbiased resolution that would benefit the aggrieved parties. Oftentimes, the ruling issued by the court is the main basis to uphold civil law.
Punishment. Unlike criminal cases, the individual involved in the civil litigation is not subject to really heavy punishments. The most common punishment for the losing party is the reimbursement of a certain amount of money that would cover the cost incurred by the plaintiff brought about by the actions of the defendant. The winning party has the right to ask for punitive damages under civil law but not for all the cases. Exceptions for these are cases that are covered by contract laws. Most of the time, the attorney of the defendant would try to lower the cost of punitive damages through bargaining. However, the legal system dictates that the plaintiff could rightfully claim his well deserved amount of money as punitive damages if the opposing party has done any of the following:
- Malicious acts
- Gross negligence
- Willful disregard for others
Examples. At times, the definition of civil law varies from state to state or from country to country. For instance, the Civil Procedure Code in the state of Texas may vary from that of the state of California. Similarly, the Civil Procedure Code of the United States may have some differences from that of the Philippines. Therefore, most of the renowned firms try to, as much as possible, hire lawyers who are well-rounded and fast learners because chances are, lawyers get to be reassigned in states with different set of laws or in states where the laws change from time to time.
Civil law may not seem to be as serious as criminal law, but still, each and everyone of us must take into consideration its pros and cons. As citizens, we must be responsible enough to obey and respect the laws implemented in our society.