The Common Law is a body of law derived from judicial decisions, usually known as case law, rather than from statutes or constitutions. The Common Law derived its authority from the universal consent and practice of the people from time immemorial. The Common Law is a system of jurisprudence that initially originated in England and was later adopted by United States, Singapore, India, Pakistan, Cameroon, Ghana, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, Hong Kong, and Australia.
The Common Law is quite different from the Continental Code. The code precedes the judgment and the common law follows these judgments. Common Law is unintelligible until expressed in a judgment. The principle of a case goes into the common law, rather than the words of a case. Therefore, the Common Law includes those rules of law which derive their authority from statements of principles found in the decisions of the courts. Common Law is the law of necessity which is applied during the absence of a controlling statute.
The Common Law includes tradition, custom and usage, fundamental principles, modes of reasoning, and the substance of its rules. A recognized and widely known common law held more weight than a pure local custom. The Common Law includes flexible rules and is the embodiment of broad and comprehensive unwritten principles. These comprehensive principles were derived out of natural reasoning and an innate sense of justice.
A common law system requires several stages of research and analysis to determine the appropriate law in a given situation. The facts should be ascertained properly, relevant statutes and cases should be identified, and the principles, ideas and statements by various courts should be extracted in order to determine how these would fit into or rule on the facts of a given case.
The Common Law is not static, but dynamic and still growing. It is the system of rules and declarations of principles from which the judicial ideas and legal meanings or definitions are derived and it is still expanding. The growth and development of the Common Law principles are influenced by the changing conditions and requirement of the society. Public policies play a dominant role in shaping the common law principles.