History and development of law

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Napoleonic code

The Napoleonic code was created by the french dictator Napoleon I in 1804. It codified several branches of law, commercial, criminal law, civil law and broken them down into several branches. The Napoleonic Code regarded by Robert Holtman as one of the few documents to influence the whole world. The Code ended the old feudal systems of France and most of Europe. The old feudal codes were not regulated laws, but customs of certain locations and were dictated by lords, the king and nobility. The feudal system was very confusing because non of it was written down and contradictory to people. The Napoleonic code was a big leap forward and revolutionary for its time because it was a set of written down laws not tainted with religion. The code forbade privileges of birth, so nobility and people of lesser nobility were all required to follow the same set of laws and were exempt from special privileges. Many things such as marriage, divorce that were once settled through the guidelines of the church were settled in civil court. The criminal code was also very prominent and greatly influenced the Canadian charter. Some features were trial by a jury, right to counsel and innocence until proven guilty. Many freedoms of the Charter were also influenced such as the freedom of speech, practice of religion and jobs went to those most qualified not based on the right of birth. The Napoleonic law was the end to feudalism.

The code of Hammurabi

When Hammurabi, a Mesopotamian king conquered city states to expand his Babylonian empire, he realized he needed one set of universal laws to control to diverse people that he conquered. He gathered laws from across his kingdom to find the ones most fitting and wrote down a total of 282 laws on a single stone pillar. The laws were mean't to be followed by all no matter of their social class. Hammurabi exclaimed"to make justice visible in the land, to destroy the wicked person and evil doer, that the strong might not injure the weak." Hammurabi knew the importance of his laws, so people might not pray on the less fortunate and the consequences of disobedience is known throughout his kingdom. His laws were very effective, they protected widows, orphans and the less unfortunate from exploitation. The punishments of his laws were the embodiment of an eye for an eye. Almost all the law revolved around reparation and lost of a limb such as hands, teeth or ear. The punishments were set towards your nobility class, the higher class you are or offend, the higher the punishment and viceversa. If you kill a doctor you were put to death and if you kill a peasant you had to pay one silver. Hammarabi's code also help regulate minimum wages, family matters and assault and rules about trials. The courts were also accessible to anyone now and people got trials. Even though during Hammarabi's era there was no such things as being equal everybody followed the same laws and the livelihood of the less fortunate were made better through a set of written down laws. everyone had to follow. Other things such as minimum wages and civil law and access to courts was created and many of the laws such as the ones just mentioned influenced the Canadian Charter. Today we have many things Hammurabi's Codes have such as minimum wages, access to courts, reparation etc. Hammurabi's laws even though are cruel compared to today's era they were the stepping stones to some of the laws and freedoms we have today.

Rule of law/ King John I (Magna Carta)

The Magna Carta was a written down set of clauses to limit the Kings powers so he couldn't do whatever he pleases and a set of fair laws aimed towards the church and people to improve their livelihood. The stopped made sure everyone of every social class followed the same rules and received justice. The first clauses were aimed towards the catholic church because religion was very big back then and hell fire was a great fear of the people back then. Of the many clauses some that were the most influential was the right to the courts no matter if the person could afford it and take their problems their. This brought more civil justice because before, the law was a set of customs in which the lord of the land you lived on carried out the punishments and they would punish you however they see fit. of all the clauses the most important and re known one that even influenced the U.S. charter was no one shall be deprived of life , liberty or property without due process of law. The charter guaranteed the rights of freedoms of everyone no matter their social class. Today only 3 of all the clauses are still used but this one by far was the most influential towards laws and freedoms in Canada, the US and Great Britain. The Magna Carta also was a step towards democracy because it guaranteed peoples freedoms and rights and promoted more equality in a era of extreme social differences.


Even though Canada was granted the right to self government through the British North america act, it wasn't until December 11 1931 when The statute of Westminster was signed did Canada have the right to full autonomy. It was Lord Balfour Britain's' foreign minister that suggest to grant full autonomy to all of Britain's dominions. Such dominions included Canada, New Zealand and Australia. back in the 1930's colonialism became very unpopular and was sometimes viewed as imperialism and the British government was pressured. Even though the Statute granted full autonomy to the dominions of Great Britain, the domains were to retain their allegiance to Britain. Britain and its dominions became known as the British Common Wealth of Nations and still is today. The Statute of Westminster granted all of Britain's dominions full autonomy and right to create their own laws, amend former laws created by the British government, to discard them or adopt them. Also all international affairs and internal affairs were dealt with the dominion without the interference of Britain. The greatly effected the laws of the former countries because their destinies were in their own hands and laws could be made without interference such as The Canadian Charter Of Rights in which we still follow and update to this day. The Statute of Westminster brought many freedoms and independence to former domains and colonies and ended colonialism for Great Britain.

Many of our charters and rights and our regulations on laws would've been different if not for the Statute of Westminster because we would not have a supreme court and all laws must first pass through Great Britain for their approval, Also we obtained the right to develop our own definitions and ideas of rights and freedoms and create The Charter of Rights and various laws and punishments with them.