History of Law to Present Day Law

By: Alisha Suri

Code of Hammurabi


The Code of Hammurabi was established in the 18th century B.C.E. by the Babylonian king, King Hammurabi. It was established in ancient Mesopotamia, which is now known as Iraq. Today, it is known as one of the oldest developed writings of significant length in the world. It is the first recorded code of law in human history.

The Code of Hammurabi contained approximately 282 laws and was written in Akkadian, the daily language used by the people of Babylon as religion was a key component when it came to the creation of the code. It was etched in column stone stating various aspects of Babylonian law that had been established by King Hammurabi.


King Hammurabi established the Code of Hammurabi to provide a various set of laws and punishments that were set for citizens throughout his kingdom, based on social status and gender. The Code provided a various set of rules that could be used in most aspects of life for the Babylonian citizens. It was made to maintain a system for people to solve problems and understand their place within the society at the time.

The Code of Hammurabi dealt with various aspects of society such as; Rights, Freedoms, and Duties all citizens had to follow. It stated laws that had to do with aspects from property, to divorce, to slavery, along with other aspects dealt with in daily life.

Since religion had been a major belief by a majority of the citizens, King Hammurabi used this to his advantage. He would claim that he was the messenger from god and that all the laws he had established were sent from gods, when in reality this wasn't the case. He ordered these laws to be engraved into columns around the temples in which people followed. He used a famous legal principle, "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," to establish a harsh set of justice for all citizens and their actions. For instance, depending on the incident, the severity of the punishment would be as equal. This allowed his laws to be considered to have a very aggressive and severe approach to situations going against his laws. Despite the fact that The Code of Hammurabi was very strict and aggressive, it was able to maintain an organized way of living in the society when it came to unethical actions being faced.

British North American Act


The BNA Act was signed by Queen Victoria on March 29, 1867 and came into effect on July 1, 1867. The British North America Act also known as the BNA Act was the act that led to the development of Canada in 1867. The BNA Act was developed by Canadians at the Quebec Conference in 1864 and passed without any amendment by the British Parliament in the year 1867.


The BNA Act was created as a set of documents known as the Constitution Acts which included a set of unwritten laws for the Canadian constitution. It set out a various set of rules for the legal system of the new nation that had been developed.

The Act was the beginning to the establishment of the independent Canadian nation and was the beginning of the establishment of the Canadian government influenced by the British style parliament. This led to the development of the House of Commons and the Senate, and set out the different divisions of powers between the federal government and provincial government. The BNA Act led Canada to what we use today in our daily lives when it comes to dealing with parliament and the law making process in Canada.

Statue of Westminster


The Statue of Westminster was a statute of parliament developed in Britain, December 1931, which led many nations within the British Empire to equality. Nations that were benefited through the development of this statue were, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and South Africa as they were able to gain more independence allowing them to gain full control over both domestic and foreign affairs they took part of, while still maintaining loyalty to the British Crown.

World War One had been the great turning point for Canada, along with these other nations, in which sacrifices made by these countries in the war had increased the idea of nationhood and allowed for greater independence to be declared for these colonies.

After many years of staying under strict authority of the British Empire, in 1931, at the request and with the consent of the nations, the Statute of Westminster was passed by the British Parliament, declaring international independence to these nations.


The Statue of Westminster led the British law to declare the Canada as well as the other nations involved with this statue, more powers and more independence. It granted these nations in the former colonies full legalized freedom, except for those areas who chose to continue to remain under the powers of Britain.

Before the Statue of Westminster, the British government had most power, therefore giving them the overriding authority over various bills passed by the other colonies under the British empire.

The Constitution Act


The Constitution Act was developed in order to gain full control over the Constitution of Canada from Britain, and gain full independence that it hadn't completely gained as of yet. The Constitution Act, officially came into force in April, 1982.

The Constitution Act was developed due to still some limits remaining in the Canadian legal system after both, the BNA Act, and the Statue of Westminster had been signed as Canada still remained under the powers of the British Colony.

After many debates and negotiations made in Canada, the British Parliament finally passed the Constitution Act. This act ended up replacing the initial BNA Act that was established earlier in history in 1867, and made a few amendments to the Statue of Westminster. The Constitution Act transferred most authority that Britain had left over Canada and transferred it all to Canada, including the power over any amendments ever needed to be made to the Constitution or the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.


The Constitution of Canada and is combined by many parts. The Constitution outlines various aspects of the system of government, laws, and civil rights. It also guarantees fundamental rights and freedoms of all citizens in Canada through The Charter of Rights and Freedoms developed by the Constitution. Along with the establishment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the newly developed Constitution established an amending formula in which Canada would no longer require any consent from the British Parliament when it came to making any amendments to the Canadian Constitution.

Throughout the 20th century, Canadian's worked endlessly to gain independence and develop as an independent nation from Britain. The development of Canada was a process that took over a 100 years to be finalized. It all began with the signing of the British North American Act in 1867 and then went on to the Statue of Westminster. Canada had all the aspects of an independent nation except for authority over its Constitution and ability to make amendments on their own.

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The Canadian Constitution


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Hillmer, Norman, and Richard Foot. "Statute of Westminster." Thecanadianencyclopedia.ca. Historica Canada, 20 June 2014. Web. 14 Sept. 2014.

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"Proclamation of the Constitution Act, 1982." Library and Archives Canada. Government of Canada. N.d. Web. 14 Sept. 2014.