The moral law prescribes our duties to men, and also to God. It is summed up and revealed in the Ten Commandments, and is the same as the law of nature taught us by our consciences.
The common law consists of the principles and rules of action applied by the courts in cases not regulated by express legislative acts. It is the unwritten law which has been practiced for ages in England and the United States. In all States of the Union, except Louisiana, cases not covered by the acts of the legislature are tried by the common law.
The civil law is the law that prevailed among the ancient Romans. It is still in use among most of the nations of continental Europe. In Louisiana it is applied to cases not covered by the laws of the legislature. The words civil law are sometimes used to denote the law governing civil suits.
Statute law consists of the acts passed by legislative assemblies. The words are used to denote the opposite of common law. The enactment of a statute by a State legislature repeals the common law previously in force upon the same subject.
International law, often called the law of nations, consists of the rules and customs prevailing between civilized nations in their relations with one another. It is based upon the law of nature, the law of right and wrong.
Criminal law is the law governing criminal cases. It is partly common law and partly statute law. “Ignorance of the law excuses no one.”
Parliamentary law consists of the rules and customs governing parliamentary assemblies. It prevails in all law-making bodies, in conventions and deliberative meetings.
Martial law is the law which regulates men in military service. It prevails in the army and the navy. The courts which apply it are called courts martial. Martial law is noted for its severity.
Maritime law, or marine law, is the law especially relating to the business of the sea, to ships, their crews, and navigation. The courts of maritime law are admiralty courts.
Commercial law is a system of rules for the regulation of trade and commerce. It is deduced from the customs of merchants.
COURTS.—Laws are administered, that is, explained and applied, by means of courts. A court is a body organized for the public administration of justice. A court may consist of a single judge or justice, or of a number of judges acting together.
A court can administer the laws only in cases which are brought before it. The highest court in the land can not make an order or render a judgment until the question comes to trial in a regular way.
SUITS.—Suits at law are called causes, cases, or actions.