What’s the difference between “common law” and “statutory law”?
Here’s a snapshot from Wikipedia:
Common law as opposed to statutory law and regulatory law
Black’s Law Dictionary, 10th Ed., gives as definition 1, “1. The body of law derived from judicial decisions, rather than from statutes or constitutions; [synonym] CASELAW, [contrast] STATUTORY LAW.” (Black’s Law Dictionary is the main legal dictionary used among legal professionals in the U.S.) This usage is given as the first definition in modern legal dictionaries, is characterized as the “most common” usage among legal professionals, and is the usage frequently seen in decisions of courts. In this connotation, “common law” distinguishes the authority that promulgated a law. For example, the law in most Anglo-American jurisdictions includes “statutory law” enacted by a legislature, “regulatory law” (in the U.S.) or “delegated legislation” (in the U.K.) promulgated by executive branch agencies pursuant to delegation of rule-making authority from the legislature, and common law or “case law“, i.e., decisions issued by courts (or quasi-judicialtribunals within agencies). This first connotation can be further differentiated into
- (a) pure common law
- arising from the traditional and inherent authority of courts to define what the law is, even in the absence of an underlying statute or regulation. Examples include most criminal law and procedural law before the 20th century, and even today, most contract law and the law of torts.
- (b) interstitial common law
- court decisions that analyze, interpret and determine the fine boundaries and distinctions in law promulgated by other bodies. This body of common law, sometimes called “interstitial common law,” includes judicial interpretation of the Constitution, of legislative statutes, and of agency regulations, and the application of law to specific facts.