History of Law
Code of Hammurabi, Mosaic Law, Napoleonic Code & Common Law
Beginnings of Written Law
The oldest known set of codified laws was the Code of Hammurabi which was developed by King Hammurabi of Babylon in 1754 B.C.E. Hammurabi had the 282 laws carved into stone pillars and displayed outside the temples to ensure that everyone was aware of their rights and obligations. The Code was established to create an equal society with a just and fair legal system for all citizens within the empire, however, all the laws had scaled punishment which were adjusted depending on social status. The Babylonian society's three main classes; nobles, freemen and slaves were valued differently and the latter two classes received very harsh punishments such as death, public whipping and limbs being removed while the nobles often only were required to pay financial compensation. The law of retaliation was unfair because the punishment was not proportional to the crime, instead compensation depended on the value of the class of the accuser therefore equality and justice was truly achieved only when both parties were equal in status. Additionally, there was no "distinction between a deliberate and accidentally" committed crime and the innocent were were often unfairly punished. "If a man killed a free-born pregnant woman, his daughter would be executed as retribution." Lastly, the codes were also not very effective during this era because as as much of the empire was illiterate, people were unaware of what the Code exactly stated.
Influence of Religion
Examples of Laws
- If any one is committing a robbery and is caught, then he shall be put to death..
- If a man has destroyed the eye of a man of the gentleman class, they shall destroy his eye.
- If he has destroyed the eye of a commoner, he shall pay one mina of silver.
- If he has destroyed the eye of a gentleman’s slave, he shall pay half the slave’s price.
Eye For An Eye, Tooth For a Tooth!
Influence on Modern Society
- Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
- Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
- Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
- Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
- Honour thy father and thy mother.
- Thou shalt not kill.
- Thou shalt not commit adultery.
- Thou shalt not steal.
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife.
Fear of God
- If he is penitent, he restores what he has stolen plus a fifth.
- If a thief cannot pay, he may be taken as a slave by the injured party until he has worked off the debt.
- “If anyone kills a person, the murderer shall by put to death at the evidence of witnesses, but no person shall be put to death on the testimony of one witness. Moreover, you shall not take ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death.”
Influence on Modern Society
The 1804 Napoleonic Code, also known as the French civil code, was established under the rule of Napoleon I. These laws were predominately codified statutes and unlike Common Law, these laws must cover all circumstances which leaves little room for personal interpretation by judges. Like the previous two legal systems, there is no democracy and therefore people had little say in the laws which governed them.
- Laws only applied if published (like Code of Hammurabi) – no secret laws
- Inquisitorial system – Each case independent, decision based on relevant statutes
- Prior cases do not influence new cases
- Judges are main investigators, they dominate trials
- Used Meritocracy- power vested to individuals based on ability and talent
- All male citizens are equal
- Females subordinate to fathers and sons
- Clear outlines on rights, ownership and how to acquiring rights
"Nature Intended Women to Be our slaves. They are our property."-Napoleon
Separation of Church and State
Civil Code(1804) – civil rights, property and obtaining rights
Civil Procedure (1806) – laws of civil justice and civil trials
Commercial Law (1807) – business laws (sales, trade)
Penal Code (1810) – Crimes and Punishments
Criminal Procedure(1810) – to prevent arbitrary arrest and excessive remand
- The husband alone has the management of the property in dowry, during the marriage.
- Whoever shall commit any public outrage against modesty, shall be punished with an imprisonment of from three months to one year, and a fine of from 16 to 200 francs.
- Whoever shall be guilty of false evidence, in a criminal matter, either against the accused, or in his favour, shall be punished with the penalty of hard labour for time. Nevertheless, if the party accused has been condemned to a penalty more severe than that of hard labour for time, the false witness who has deposed against him, shall suffer the same penalty.
British Influence on Law
Mosaic Law Influence
Civil Law Vs. Common Law
- Laws are written down
- Statute must cover all possible circumstances
- Previous laws do not influence, judgement based on applicable codified statutes
- Inquisitorial System
- Judges play major role, lawyers only advise
- Adversarial system
- Follows precedent - previous court case decisions recorded and utilized for help with future cases
- Judges can interpret law to fit circumstances
- More adaptable system as new laws aren't always required when things change, interpretation is just changed
- Lawyers present evidence and judge makes final decision