Definition of common law in English:

common law


  • 1The part of English law that is derived from custom and judicial precedent rather than statutes. Often contrasted with statutory law.

    • ‘However the issue is decided by construction of the section of the statute not the common law.’
    • ‘The duty of good faith can arise under common law or commercial statute.’
    • ‘It is also irrelevant, at common law, that the defendant did not intend to refer to the claimant.’
    • ‘Under the English common law, you were not even obliged to support your families.’
    • ‘On the other hand, they cannot prosecute unless the offence charged is actually laid down by statute or at common law.’
    • ‘They were subject to prosecution under English common law.’
    • ‘Companies are capable of committing offences across a wide spectrum both by statute and at common law.’
    • ‘Another is the common law, derived from precedent and judges' interpretations of the law.’
    • ‘When a person is adopted in Ireland, common law rules that they are considered to be born to their new parents.’
    • ‘Hence the dominant influence on the Australian common law was the English common law.’
    • ‘At common law parents may consent on behalf of their children until they reach the age of 18.’
    • ‘The procedure on stopping the driver was neither prescribed by statute nor in common law.’
    • ‘They would still be liable at common law for negligent installation or maintenance.’
    • ‘This rule has always been statutory and does not arise from either common law or equity.’
    • ‘There is no right at common law for him to recover the cost against the grantor.’
    • ‘Thus the Court should be slow to infer principles of common law as a gloss on the statutory framework.’
    • ‘Equity awarded simple interest at a time when courts of law had no right under common law or statute to award any interest.’
    • ‘The English common law is a system for producing bespoke legal solutions to individual problems.’
    • ‘Generally, the system of law in use worldwide can be classified into common law and statute law.’
    • ‘This is true whether the rule in question is statutory, common law, or contained in a contract.’
    1. 1.1 The body of English law as adopted and modified separately by the different states of the US and by the federal government.
      Compare with civil law
      • ‘Under the U.S. system, the judiciary is charged with ensuring that the principles embedded in the Constitution, statutes, and common law are honored regardless of what the majority thinks.’
      • ‘The ruling is based on the federal Lanham Act, which prohibits false and deceptive advertising, and Missouri common law dealing with unfair competition.’
      • ‘Prior to 1970, many states, by statute or common law, dictated that fathers had a right to have their children bear their surnames.’
    2. 1.2as modifier Denoting a partner in a marriage by common law (which recognized unions created by mutual agreement and public behavior), not by a civil or ecclesiastical ceremony.
      ‘a common-law husband’
      • ‘Having risen from a difficult childhood, difficulties with alcohol, loss of employment, his home and a failed marriage, he now has stable employment and enjoys a loving relationship with his common-law wife.’
      • ‘She'll remember her common-law husband of nine years for his extensive pin collection and for serving her breakfast in bed.’
      • ‘At home, her common-law husband did an extra one to two hours of housework that she could no longer do after the accident.’
      • ‘Within the hour, a man officers have described as her common-law husband went to police.’
      • ‘Ingram's common-law husband knew and so did students.’
      • ‘Over the years the whole issue of marriage has changed and many couples would rather live together as common-law husband and wife, many feel that if they got married then their whole relationship would change, for us this was never the case.’
      • ‘Pension providers were recently asked if they make a point of never providing pensions for common-law partners under any circumstances.’
      • ‘An Idutywa businesswoman and her common-law husband were found guilty of fraud involving theft of pension cheques amounting to more than R700 000.’
      • ‘The policy permits Iowa State to offer the same insurance credits for domestic partners enrolled in an Iowa State benefits plan as it does for married or common-law partners.’
      • ‘Her common-law husband, Manuel Ortega, had decided to pay her a visit at the family home in Guatemala.’
      • ‘In fact, you can use the money to help out your spouse or common-law partner - but not your kids.’
      • ‘Her common-law husband is Lawrence Dublay, who is 65 years old.’
      • ‘Her mother stood next to an open doorway and sobbed yesterday as the undertakers brought down her common-law husband's body.’
      • ‘Like married spouses, common-law partners can opt out of the property sharing regime by entering into a written agreement dealing with their property.’
      • ‘Her common-law husband is a prison guard in Napanee, and was also on strike with OPSEU.’
      • ‘Two individuals are affiliated only if they are spouses or common-law partners.’
    3. 1.3as modifier Denoting a partner in a long-term relationship of cohabitation.
      • ‘When a woman in a common-law relationship has a child, her male partner is automatically considered the father, unless she enters another name on the birth certificate.’
      • ‘In June 2001 he moved in with a new common-law partner.’
      • ‘There is always a feeling of insecurity by the female partner in any common-law relationship.’
      • ‘During their 20-year common-law relationship, they lived in Calgary, Portage La Prairie and Ottawa.’
      • ‘Within a year the relationship changed from landlord-tenant to one of common-law partners.’


common law

/ˈkɑmən ˈˌlɔ//ˈkämən ˈˌlô/