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Criminal law deals with conduct that is considered harmful to social order and in which the guilty party may be imprisoned or fined.Civil law (not to be confused with civil law jurisdictions above) deals with the resolution of lawsuits (disputes) between individuals or organizations.
The Napoleonic and German Codes became the most influential.Latin legal maxims (called brocards) were compiled for guidance.In medieval England, royal courts developed a body of precedent which later became the common law.Similarly, traditional Chinese law gave way to westernisation towards the final years of the Qing Dynasty in the form of six private law codes based mainly on the Japanese model of German law.Today Taiwanese law retains the closest affinity to the codifications from that period, because of the split between Chiang Kai-shek's nationalists, who fled there, and Mao Zedong's communists who won control of the mainland in 1949.A Europe-wide Law Merchant was formed so that merchants could trade with common standards of practice rather than with the many splintered facets of local laws.
The Law Merchant, a precursor to modern commercial law, emphasised the freedom to contract and alienability of property.
Ancient Egyptian law, dating as far back as 3000 BC, contained a civil code that was probably broken into twelve books.
It was based on the concept of Ma'at, characterised by tradition, rhetorical speech, social equality and impartiality.
Islamic Sharia law is the world's most widely used religious law, and is used as the primary legal system in some countries, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia.
The adjudication of the law is generally divided into two main areas.
The small Greek city-state, ancient Athens, from about the 8th century BC was the first society to be based on broad inclusion of its citizenry, excluding women and the slave class.