Code of law

A code of law, also called a law code or legal code, is a type of legislation that purports to exhaustively cover a complete system of laws or a particular area of law as it existed at the time the code was enacted, by a process of codification.[1] Though the process and motivations for codification are similar in different common law and civil law systems, their usage is different.

In a civil law country, a code of law typically exhaustively covers the complete system of law, such as civil law or criminal law. By contrast, in a common law country with legislative practices in the English tradition, a code of law is a less common form of legislation, which differs from usual legislation that, when enacted, modify the existing common law only to the extent of its express or implicit provision, but otherwise leaves the common law intact. A code entirely replaces the common law in a particular area, leaving the common law inoperative unless and until the code is repealed. In a third case of slightly different usage, in the United States and other common law countries that have adopted similar legislative practices, a code of law is a standing body of statute law on a particular area, which is added to, subtracted from, or otherwise modified by individual legislative enactments.

Code Civil 1804
First page of the 1804 original edition of the Napoleonic code


The legal code was a common feature of the legal systems of the ancient Middle East. The Sumerian Code of Ur-Nammu (c. 2100-2050 BC), then the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (c. 1760 BC), are among the earliest and best preserved legal codes, originating in the Fertile Crescent.

In the Roman empire, a number of codifications were developed, such as the Twelve Tables of Roman law (first compiled in 450 BC) and the Corpus Juris Civilis of Justinian, also known as the Justinian Code (429 - 534 AD). However, these law codes did not exhaustively describe the Roman legal system. The Twelve Tables were limited in scope, and most legal doctrines were developed by the pontifices, who "interpreted" the tables to deal with situations far beyond what is contained therein. The Justinian Code collected together existing legal material at the time.

The Hebrew Written Torah and Oral Torah (200–220 CE) constitute the earliest and best preserved ethical code at the same time. Halakha (Jewish religious law) is the oldest collective body of religious laws, laws and jurisdictions still in use.

In ancient China, the first comprehensive criminal code was the Tang Code, created in 624 AD in the Tang Dynasty. This, and subsequent imperial codes, formed the basis for the penal system of both China and other East Asian states under its cultural influence. The last and best preserved imperial code is the Great Qing Legal Code, created in 1644 upon the founding of the Qing Dynasty. This code was the exclusive and exhaustive statement of Chinese law between 1644 and 1912. Though it was in form a criminal code, large parts of the code dealt with civil law matters and the settlement of civil disputes. The Code ceased its operation upon the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1912, but significant provisions remained in operation in Hong Kong until well into the 1970s due to a peculiar interaction between it and the British common law system.

In Europe, Roman law, especially the Corpus Juris Civilis, became the basis of the legal systems of many countries. Roman law was either adopted by legislation (becoming positive law), or through processing by jurists. The accepted Roman law is usually then codified and forms part of the central Code. The codification movement gathered pace after the rise of nation-states after the Treaty of Westphalia. Prominent national civil codes include the Napoleonic Code (code civil) of 1804, the German civil code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch) of 1900 and the Swiss codes. The European codifications of the 1800s influenced the codification of Catholic canon law[2] resulting in the 1917 Code of Canon Law which was replaced by the 1983 Code of Canon Law and whose Eastern counterpart is the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

Meanwhile, African civilizations developed their own legal traditions, sometimes codifying them through consistent oral tradition, as illustrated e.g. by the Kouroukan Fouga, a charter proclaimed by the Mali Empire in 1222-1236, enumerating regulations in both constitutional and civil matters, and transmitted to this day by griots under oath.[3]

The Continental civil law tradition spread around the world along with European cultural and military dominance in recent centuries. During the Meiji Restoration, Japan adopted a new Civil Code (1898), based primarily on the French civil code and influenced by the German code. After the Xinhai Revolution of 1911 in China, the new Republic of China government abandoned the imperial code tradition and instead adopted a new civil code strongly influenced by the German Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, and also influenced by the Japanese code. This new tradition has been largely maintained in the legal system of the People's Republic of China since 1949.

Meanwhile, codifications also became more common in common law systems. For example, a criminal code is found in a number of common law jurisdictions in Australia and the Americas, and continues to be debated in England.

In the Americas, the influence of Continental legal codes has manifest itself in two ways. In civil law jurisdictions, legal codes in the Continental tradition are common. In common law jurisdictions, however, there has been a strong trend towards codification. The result of such codification, however, is not always a legal code as found in civil law jurisdictions. For example, the California Civil Code largely codifies common law doctrine and is very different in form and content from all other civil codes.

Civil code

A civil code typically forms the core of civil law systems. The legal Code typically covers exhaustively the entire system of private law.

Civil codes are sometimes also found in common law systems, especially in the United States of America. However, such civil codes are often collections of common law rules and a variety of ad hoc statutes; that is, they do not aspire to complete logical coherence.

Criminal code

A criminal code or penal code is a common feature in many legal systems. Codification of the criminal law allows the criminal law to be more accessible and more democratically made and amended.

See also


  1. ^ Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Code" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 632–634.
  2. ^ Dr. Edward N. Peters,, accessed 7-15-2014
  3. ^ Africamix sur le site du Monde

van Gulik, R.H. Crime and Punishment in Ancient China: The Tang Yin Pi Shih. Orchid Press, 2007.ISBN 9745240915, ISBN 978-974-524-091-9

External links


The Basilika was a collection of laws completed c. 892 AD in Constantinople by order of the Byzantine Emperor Leo VI the Wise during the Macedonian dynasty. This was a continuation of the efforts of his father, Basil I, to simplify and adapt the Emperor Justinian I's Corpus Juris Civilis code of law issued between 529 and 534 which had become outdated. The term "Basilika" comes not from the Emperor Basil's name, but rather from Greek: τὰ βασιλικά meaning "Royal Laws".


Brahmin (; Sanskrit: ब्राह्मण) is a varna (class) in Hinduism specialising as priests, teachers (acharya) and protectors of sacred learning across generations.The traditional occupation of Brahmins was that of priesthood at the Hindu temples or at socio-religious ceremonies and rite of passage rituals such as solemnising a wedding with hymns and prayers. Theoretically, the Brahmins were the highest ranking of the four social classes. In practice, Indian texts suggest that Brahmins were agriculturalists, warriors, traders and have held a variety of other occupations in India.

Capital punishment in Israel

Capital punishment in Israel has only been imposed twice in the history of the state and is only to be handed out for crimes committed during war time, such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, crimes against the Jewish people, treason, and certain crimes under military law.Israel inherited the British Mandate of Palestine code of law, which included the death penalty for several offenses, but in 1954 Israel abolished the penalty for murder. Although a legal option under law, Israel does not use the death penalty. The last execution was carried out in 1962, when Holocaust architect Adolf Eichmann was hanged for genocide and crimes against humanity. The last death sentence in Israel was handed down in 1988, when John Demjanjuk was sentenced to death for war crimes and crimes against humanity; his sentence (and conviction) was subsequently overturned. No death sentences have been sought by Israeli prosecutors since the 1990s.

Chagatai Khan

Chagatai Khan (Mongolian: Цагадай, Tsagadai; Chinese: 察合台, Chágětái; Turkish: Çağatay; Persian: جغتای‬‎, Joghatai; 22 December 1183 – 1 July 1242) was the second son of Genghis Khan. He was Khan of the Chagatai Khanate from 1226-1242 C.E. The Chagatai language and Chagatai Turks take their names from him. He inherited most of what are now the five Central Asian states after the death of his father. He was also appointed by Genghis Khan to oversee the execution of the Yassa, the written code of law created by Genghis Khan, though that lasted only until Genghis Khan was crowned Khan of the Mongol Empire. The Empire later came to be known as the Chagatai Khanate, a descendant empire of the Mongol Empire. Chagatai Khan was considered hot-headed and somewhat temperamental by his relatives, because of his attitude of non-acceptance of Jochi as Great Khan. He was the most vocal about this issue among his relations. Chaghatai is in some stories held responsible for the death of Jochi and Genghis Khan. At any rate, he was animated by the soldier-like spirit of his father, and succeeded in keeping order among as heterogeneous a population as a kingdom was ever composed of.

Code of Hammurabi

The Code of Hammurabi is a well-preserved Babylonian code of law of ancient Mesopotamia, dated back to about 1754 BCE (Middle Chronology). It is one of the oldest deciphered writings of significant length in the world. The sixth Babylonian king, Hammurabi, enacted the code. A partial copy exists on a 2.25 metre (7.5 ft) stone stele. It consists of 282 laws, with scaled punishments, adjusting "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" (lex talionis) as graded depending on social status, of slave versus free, man or woman.Nearly half of the code deals with matters of contract, establishing the wages to be paid to an ox driver or a surgeon for example. Other provisions set the terms of a transaction, the liability of a builder for a house that collapses, or property that is damaged while left in the care of another. A third of the code addresses issues concerning household and family relationships such as inheritance, divorce, paternity, and reproductive behaviour. Only one provision appears to impose obligations on an official; this provision establishes that a judge who alters his decision after it is written down is to be fined and removed from the bench permanently. A few provisions address issues related to military service.

The code was discovered by modern archaeologists in 1901, and its editio princeps translation published in 1902 by Jean-Vincent Scheil. This nearly complete example of the code is carved into a basalt stele in the shape of a huge index finger, 2.25 m (7.4 ft) tall. The code is inscribed in the Akkadian language, using cuneiform script carved into the stele.

It is currently on display in the Louvre, with replicas in numerous institutions, including the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in Chicago, the Clendening History of Medicine Library & Museum at the University of Kansas Medical Center, the library of the Theological University of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, the Pergamon Museum of Berlin, the Arts Faculty of the University of Leuven in Belgium, the National Museum of Iran in Tehran, and the Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, the University Museum at the University of Pennsylvania, and Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC.

Corpus Juris Civilis

The Corpus Juris (or Iuris) Civilis ("Body of Civil Law") is the modern name for a collection of fundamental works in jurisprudence, issued from 529 to 534 by order of Justinian I, Eastern Roman Emperor. It is also sometimes referred to as the Code of Justinian, although this name belongs more properly to the part titled Codex Justinianus.

The work as planned had three parts: the Code (Codex) is a compilation, by selection and extraction, of imperial enactments to date; the Digest or Pandects (the Latin title contains both Digesta and Pandectae) is an encyclopedia composed of mostly brief extracts from the writings of Roman jurists; and the Institutes (Institutiones) is a student textbook, mainly introducing the Code, although it has important conceptual elements that are less developed in the Code or the Digest. All three parts, even the textbook, were given force of law. They were intended to be, together, the sole source of law; reference to any other source, including the original texts from which the Code and the Digest had been taken, was forbidden. Nonetheless, Justinian found himself having to enact further laws and today these are counted as a fourth part of the Corpus, the Novellae Constitutiones (Novels, literally New Laws).

The work was directed by Tribonian, an official in Justinian's court. His team was authorized to edit what they included. How far they made amendments is not recorded and, in the main, cannot be known because most of the originals have not survived. The text was composed and distributed almost entirely in Latin, which was still the official language of the government of the Byzantine Empire in 529–534, whereas the prevalent language of merchants, farmers, seamen, and other citizens was Greek. By the early 7th century, the official government language had become Greek during the lengthy reign of Heraclius (610–641).

How far the Corpus Juris Civilis or any of its parts was effective, whether in the east or (with reconquest) in the west, is unknown. However, it was not in general use during the Early Middle Ages. After the Early Middle Ages, interest in it revived. It was "received" or imitated as private law and its public law content was quarried for arguments by both secular and ecclesiastical authorities. This revived Roman law, in turn, became the foundation of law in all civil law jurisdictions. The provisions of the Corpus Juris Civilis also influenced the canon law of the Roman Catholic Church: it was said that ecclesia vivit lege romana – the church lives by Roman law. Its influence on common law legal systems has been much smaller, although some basic concepts from the Corpus have survived through Norman law – such as the contrast, especially in the Institutes, between "law" (statute) and custom. The Corpus continues to have a major influence on public international law. Its four parts thus constitute the foundation documents of the Western legal tradition.


Dharmaśāstra (Sanskrit: धर्मशास्त्र) is a genre of Sanskrit theological texts, and refers to the treatises (shastras) of Hinduism on dharma. There are many Dharmashastras, variously estimated to be 18 to about 100, with different and conflicting points of view. Each of these texts exist in many different versions, and each is rooted in Dharmasutras texts dated to 1st millennium BCE that emerged from Kalpa (Vedanga) studies in the Vedic era.The textual corpus of Dharmaśāstra were composed in poetic verses, are part of the Hindu Smritis, constituting divergent commentaries and treatises on duties, responsibilities and ethics to oneself, to family and as a member of society. The texts include discussion of ashrama (stages of life), varna (social classes), purushartha (proper goals of life), personal virtues and duties such as ahimsa (non-violence) against all living beings, rules of just war, and other topics.Dharmaśāstra became influential in modern colonial India history, when they were formulated by early British colonial administrators to be the law of the land for all non-Muslims (Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs) in India, after Sharia was already accepted as the law for Muslims in colonial India.

Lekë Dukagjini

Lekë III Dukagjini (1410–1481), mostly known as Lekë Dukagjini, was a mysterious member of the Dukagjini family about whom little is known and who is thought to have been a 15th-century Albanian nobleman. A contemporary of Skanderbeg, Dukagjini is known for the Kanuni i Lekë Dukagjinit, a code of law instituted among the tribes of northern Albania.


The Manusmṛti (Sanskrit: मनुस्मृति), also spelled as Manusmriti, is an ancient legal text among the many Dharmaśāstras of Hinduism. It was one of the first Sanskrit texts to have been translated into English in 1776, by Sir William Jones, and was used to formulate the Hindu law by the British colonial government.Over fifty manuscripts of the Manusmriti are now known, but the earliest discovered, most translated and presumed authentic version since the 18th century has been the "Calcutta manuscript with Kulluka Bhatta commentary". Modern scholarship states this presumed authenticity is false, and the various manuscripts of Manusmriti discovered in India are inconsistent with each other, and within themselves, raising concerns of its authenticity, insertions and interpolations made into the text in later times.The metrical text is in Sanskrit, is variously dated to be from the 2nd century BCE to 3rd century CE, and it presents itself as a discourse given by Manu (Svayambhuva) and Bhrigu on dharma topics such as duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues and others. The text's fame spread outside India, long before the colonial era. The medieval era Buddhistic law of Myanmar and Thailand are also ascribed to Manu, and the text influenced past Hindu kingdoms in Cambodia and Indonesia.Manusmriti is also called the Mānava-Dharmaśāstra or Laws of Manu.

Rear admiral (United States)

Rear admiral in the United States refers to two different ranks of commissioned officers — one-star flag officers and two-star flag officers. By contrast, in most nations, the term "rear admiral" refers to an officer of two-star rank.

Secularism in India

Secularism in India means equal treatment of all religions by the state.

With the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution of India enacted in 1976, the Preamble to the Constitution asserted that India is a secular nation. However, neither India's constitution nor its laws define the relationship between religion and state. The laws implicitly require the state and its institutions to recognise and accept all religions, enforce parliamentary laws instead of religious laws, and respect pluralism. India does not have an official state religion. In matters of law in modern India, however, the applicable code of law is unequal, and India's personal laws - on matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, alimony - varies with an individual's religion. Muslim Indians have Sharia-based Muslim Personal Law, while Hindu, Christian and Sikh Indians live under common law. The attempt to respect unequal, religious law has created a number of issues in India such as acceptability of child marriage, polygamy, unequal inheritance rights, extra judicial unilateral divorce rights favorable to some males, and conflicting interpretations of religious books.Secularism as practiced in India, with its marked differences with Western practice of secularism, is a controversial topic in India. See also pseudo-secularism Supporters of the Indian concept of secularism claim it respects. Supporters of this form of secularism claim that any attempt to introduce a uniform civil code, that is equal laws for every citizen irrespective of his or her religion, would impose majoritarian Hindu sensibilities and ideals. Opponents argue that India's acceptance of Sharia and religious laws violates the principle of Equality before the law.Secularism is a divisive, politically charged topic in India.


Shastra (शास्त्र, IAST: Śāstra, IPA: [ʃaːst̪rə]) is a Sanskrit word that means "precept, rules, manual, compendium, book or treatise" in a general sense. The word is generally used as a suffix in the Indian literature context, for technical or specialized knowledge in a defined area of practice.Shastra has a similar meaning to English -logy, e.g. ecology, psychology, meaning scientific and basic knowledge on particular subject. Examples in terms of modern neologisms include bhautikashastra "physics", rasayanashastra "chemistry", jīvashāstra "biology", vastushastra "architectural science", shilpashastra "science of mechanical arts and sculpture", arthashastra "science of politics, economics" and nitishastra "compendium of ethics or right policy".

In Western literature, Shastra is sometimes spelled as Sastra, reflecting a misunderstanding of the IPA symbol ‘ś’, which corresponds to the English ‘sh’.

Third Dynasty of Ur

The terms "Third Dynasty of Ur" and "Neo-Sumerian Empire" refer to both a 22nd to 21st century BC (middle chronology) Sumerian ruling dynasty based in the city of Ur and a short-lived territorial-political state which some historians consider to have been a nascent empire. The Third Dynasty of Ur is commonly abbreviated as Ur III by historians studying the period.

The Third Dynasty of Ur was the last Sumerian dynasty which came to preeminent power in Mesopotamia. It began after several centuries of control by Akkadian and Gutian kings. It controlled the cities of Isin, Larsa and Eshnunna and extended as far north as the Jazira.


Västgötalagen (Swedish pronunciation: [²vɛɧːøːtaˌlɑːɡɛn] or [²vɛsːtjøːta-]) or the Westrogothic law is the oldest Swedish text written in Latin script and the oldest of all Swedish provincial laws. It was compiled in the early 13th century, probably at least partly at the instigation of Eskil Magnusson and is known to have been the code of law used in the province of Västergötland (West Gothland) during the latter half of that century. The earliest complete text is dated 1281. Small fragments of an older text have been dated 1250.This legal code exists in two versions, Äldre Västgötalagen and Yngre Västgötalagen (the Elder and Younger Westrogothic law, respectively). A first printing in modern times was published by Hans Samuel Collin and Carl Johan Schylter in 1827 (which made the text the subject of the earliest known stemma), and a new edition by Gösta Holm in 1976.

A contemporarily current list of Christian Swedish kings, added as an appendix to the oldest manuscript of Äldre Västgötalagen, was written by a priest called Laurentius in Vedum (same province) around 1325, his source being unknown. It begins with Olof Skötkonung and ends with Johan Sverkersson.


W08EM-D is a Roman Catholic religious television station in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, USA. The station broadcasts locally on channel 8 as an affiliate of EWTN. Founded on November 30, 1987, the station is owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton.

In late November 2009, the satellite station W19CI was given authority by the FCC to go silent and to retain its license. The reason for shutting down was an anomaly in the tower structure where the signal for 19 originated, which required it by code of law to be dismantled by the owner.

On March 15, 2010, Catholic Broadcasting of Scranton was awarded a construction permit by the FCC for W19CI. The facility was never constructed though, but Berwick still receives the channel through Metrocast cable.

On September 15, 2015, Catholic Broadcasting of Scranton moved the broadcast signal for W07BV on analog channel 7 to digital channel 8 under the call sign W08EM-D.

Women in Hinduism

Hindu texts present diverse and conflicting views on the position of women, ranging from feminine leadership as the highest goddess, to limiting her role to an obedient daughter, housewife and mother. The Devi Sukta hymn of Rigveda, a scripture of Hinduism, declares the feminine energy as the essence of the universe, the one who creates all matter and consciousness, the eternal and infinite, the metaphysical and empirical reality (Brahman), the soul (supreme self) of everything. The woman is celebrated as the most powerful and the empowering force in some Hindu Upanishads, Sastras and Puranas, particularly the Devi Upanishad, Devi Mahatmya and Devi-Bhagavata Purana.In Smritis, such as the Manusmriti, the position of women in Hinduism is mixed and contradictory. Manusmriti asserts that "as a girl, she should obey and seek protection of her father, as a young woman her husband, and as a widow her son". In fact, Daughters-in-law are not fully accepted into their husband's families until they have produced a son of their own. Sons alone may continue the family line. However, in other sections, the same text asserts that "women must be honored and adorned", and "where women are revered, there the gods rejoice; but where they are not, no sacred rite bears any fruit". Women who are mothers of a son, with their husbands still alive, are the most auspicious members of society. It is when and if their husbands die, that a woman may lose her status in society. However, scholars have questioned the authenticity and corruption of the text over time, given the numerous inconsistent version of the Smriti manuscripts that have been discovered.Ancient and medieval era Hindu texts present a diverse picture of duties and rights of women in Hinduism. The texts recognize eight kinds of marriage, ranging from father finding a marriage partner for his daughter and seeking her consent (Brahma marriage), to the bride and groom finding each other without parental participation (Gandharva marriage). Scholars state that Vedic era Hindu texts, and records left by travelers to ancient and medieval India, suggest ancient and early medieval Hindu society did not practice Dowry or Sati. These practices likely became widespread sometime in the 2nd millennium CE from socio-political developments in the Indian subcontinent.Hinduism, states Bryant, has the strongest presence of the divine feminine among major world religions, from ancient times to the present. The goddess is viewed as central in Shakti and Saiva Hindu traditions.


Yasser (alternatively: Yasa, Yasaq, Jazag, Zasag, Mongolian: Их засаг, Yehe Zasag) was a secret written code of law created by Genghis Khan. The word Yassa translates into "order" or "decree". It was the de facto law of the Mongol Empire even though the "law" was kept secret and never made public. The Yassa seems to have its origin as decrees issued in war times. Later, these decrees were codified and expanded to include cultural and life-style conventions. By keeping the Yassa secret, the decrees could be modified and used selectively. It is believed that the Yassa was supervised by Genghis Khan himself and his stepbrother Shihihutag who was then high judge (in Mongolian: улсын их заргач) of the Mongol Empire. Genghis Khan appointed his second son Chagatai (later Chagatai Khan) to oversee the execution of the laws.

Zheng (state)

Zheng (; Chinese: 鄭; Old Chinese: *[d]reng-s) was a vassal state in China during the Zhou Dynasty (1046–221 BCE) located in the centre of ancient China in modern-day Henan Province on the North China Plain about 75 miles (121 km) east of the royal capital at Luoyang. It was the most powerful of the vassal states at the beginning of the Eastern Zhou (771–701 BCE), and was the first state to clearly establish a code of law in its late period of 543 BCE. Its ruling house had the surname Ji (姬), making them a branch of the Zhou royal house, who were given the rank of Bo (伯), corresponding roughly to being a Count.

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