- The definition of common law is a union between a couple who has lived together for long enough that they are essentially considered for some legal purpose to be married, even though they never actually legally wed.
An example of a common law marriage is when two people have lived together for 10 or more years and have thus earned a legal right to share their assets because of it.
- Common law is defined as a body of legal rules that have been made by judges as they issue rulings on cases, as opposed to rules and laws made by the legislature or in official statutes.
An example of common law is a rule that a judge made that says that people have a duty to read contracts.
- Law established by court decisions rather than by statutes enacted by legislatures.
- The law of England adopted by its territories and colonies, including the United States at the time of its formation.
- Of, relating to, or based on common law.
- Of or relating to a common-law marriage.
- (law) Law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals (also called case law), as distinguished from legislative statutes or regulations promulgated by the executive branch.
- (law, typically in the phrase "common law system") A legal system that gives great precedential weight to common law (in sense 1), as opposed to a civil law, Islamic law, and Soviet law systems.
- (law, typically in the phrase "common law jurisdiction") A jurisdiction that uses a common law system (in sense 2), United Kingdom and most of its former colonies and possessions, including the United States.
- (law, archaic) One of two legal systems in England and in the United States before 1938 (the other being equity).
- Of or pertaining to common law.
- Relating to common-law marriage.
common law - Legal Definition
- A legal system derived from the broad and comprehensive principles encompassed within the unwritten laws of England and applied in most English-speaking countries, including the United States (except the state of Louisiana). The principles are created and modified by judicial decisions; passed on through custom, traditional usage, and precedent; are adaptable when applied to new facts and circumstances; and are changeable when required. Although much of what was once part of the common law, such as commercial law and criminal law, has been codified, other areas of the law, such as contract law, property law, and tort law, are still primarily governed by the principles of the common law. See also case law, casus omissus, civil law, and natural law.
- The legal procedures and decisions of courts of law as distinguished from courts of equity. Also called law.