Examples of these crimes are murder, kidnapping, robbing etc. State acts as a prosecutor in criminal matters as it is the State who sets out the legal framework. There is, however, a right of undertaking private prosecution’ in which a citizen, ordinarily the victim, acts as a prosecutor (Gillespie, 2007, p.8). The penalties, in case of a breach of a criminal law, include fines, loss of liberty, execution and State supervision. A person penalized under criminal law for the first time initiates a ‘criminal record’ in which all the crimes committed in the future are to be incorporated.
Civil law deals with anything that is not in the scope of criminal law (Gillespie, 2007, p.8), e.g. Contract Law. The primary source of this law is the legal code. It generally concerns with private matters of the parties but the State is involved in some matters too e.g. in a lawsuit brought against a public body. Therefore, civil law is a mix of public and private law. The citizens are mostly the prosecutors in matters arising under civil law. The penalties are not of a punishing nature. This law attempts to make the guilty party compensate the aggrieved party for the loss that it causes by way of allowing damages. A lawsuit brought under civil law is not due to a breach of a public duty and hence, are not punitive. The damages are classified according to the nature of the loss. However, nominal damages are allowed in some cases which serve the purpose of punishing a party.
Common law recognizes the common principles and develops the statutory law which is passed by the Parliament. It develops the law by forming new precedents which are the judges’ decisions in any particular set of circumstances. Once a precedent is formed, the future judges are bound by it for the sake of consistency in adjudications unless there are new circumstances which force a judge to decide on the contrary. For instance, Donoghue v Stevenson (1932, duty of ...