civil law

noun, often capitalized C&L

Definition of civil law

1 : Roman law especially as set forth in the Justinian code
2 : the body of private law developed from Roman law and used in Louisiana and in many countries outside the English-speaking world
3 : the law established by a nation or state for its own jurisdiction
4 : the law of civil or private rights

Examples of civil law in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Historians have described it as one of the last cities to establish civil law enforcement institutions, relying instead on vigilante justice and mob rule. Los Angeles Times, "The racist massacre that killed 10% of L.A.’s Chinese population and brought shame to the city," 18 Mar. 2021 Lawyers who practice in the civil law courts are also apparently not included. Greg Moran, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Court workers, judges, lawyers now can get vaccine under change made quietly by county last week," 2 Mar. 2021 Under the Posse Comitatus Act, active-duty troops cannot be used for civil law enforcement. The Salt Lake Tribune, "An Election Day role for National Guard? Maybe, but limited.," 30 Oct. 2020 The conference’s three tracks will focus on civil law, criminal law and community approaches to lowering domestic violence. Elaine Ayala,, "Ayala: Metro Health’s newest division aims to prevent violence," 15 Oct. 2020 For the next 11 years, Hunter maintained a practice in civil law that included work for Civil Sheriff Paul Valteau. Matt Sledge,, "After 23 years on the bench, Arthur Hunter mounts bid for DA," 12 Oct. 2020 The steep decline raises questions over how necessary prisonlike detention is for immigrants going through a civil law system to determine their fate. Dianne Solis, Dallas News, "Immigration detention centers are emptying out as the U.S. cites coronavirus for removals," 2 Oct. 2020 Barrett, in her 1998 article and elsewhere, has said judges should conform to civil law but also that judges should be expected to have personal values that may influence their rulings. Matthew Brown, USA TODAY, "Fact check: 'Kingdom of God' comment by SCOTUS contender Amy Coney Barrett is missing context in meme," 25 Sep. 2020 The matter is a civil law complaint and has to be handled through those channels. Joan Rusek, cleveland, "Fireworks, phone scams and an invisible man: Russell Township police blotter," 10 July 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'civil law.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of civil law

circa 1500, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of civil law was circa 1500

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Statistics for civil law

Last Updated

25 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Civil law.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for civil law

civil law


English Language Learners Definition of civil law

: laws that deal with the rights of people rather than with crimes

civil law

noun, often capitalized C&L

Legal Definition of civil law

1 : Roman law especially as set forth in the Code of Justinian
2 : the body of law developed from Roman law and used in Louisiana, in continental Europe, and in many other countries outside of the English-speaking world including especially those that were colonized by countries of continental Europe — compare common law

Note: Although Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. whose law is based entirely on civil law, remnants of civil law remain in other states (as Texas and California) in which countries of continental Europe had a strong influence.

3 : the law established by a nation or state for its own jurisdiction
4 : the law that applies to private rights especially as opposed to the law that applies to criminal matters — compare criminal law

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