Other Legal MattersWhat is Civil Law in Australia?

October 20, 20220
What is Civil Law? – A Comprehensive Guide to the Australian Legal System

Civil Law in Australia

The legal system in Australia is divided into two broad categories – civil law and criminal law. Although these two legal systems may appear different at first glance, they both deal with resolving disputes among individuals in society. Here, we will take a look at what is Civil Law in Australia and the role that it plays in the country’s legal system.

What is Civil Law in Australia?

The term ‘civil law’ is used to describe the legal system that regulates relations between individuals in society.

Civil law is different from criminal law in many ways. Civil law is concerned with the rights of individuals such as property ownership, contracts, and other contractual agreements. Civil law deals with issues such as disputes related to a breach of contract, a breach of another individual’s rights, or makes decisions about family law related matters, or human rights issues.

Criminal law, on the other hand, deals with an action that is considered to be against the law of the land – what society, and governments have decided is so unacceptable in terms of behaviour, that sanctions are needed in order to deter and punish the behaviour.

Criminal law primarily protects the interest of society as a whole (while also protecting the interests of individuals in many instances), whereas civil law primarily protects the interests of the individuals involved in the particular dispute.

Importance of Civil Law in the Australian Legal System

what is civil law in AustraliaCivil law is a fundamental pillar of the legal system. It is a collection of rules, regulations and procedures that are used to solve disputes that are not criminal in nature. It can be either public or private depending on the matter. Civil law is a critical part of the Australian legal system, especially in matters such as property ownership, divorce, contractual disputes, and will and probate disputes.

A legal system can be considered robust and effective only when it has a well-developed civil law.

Civil law is a necessary and important part of any legal system.  Key benefits of civil law in the Australian legal system include the following:

– The rule of law: The rule of law is a critical part of any legal system that ensures each citizen and resident are treated equally, fairly, and justly. The rule of law relies on an independent judiciary and other services like the police, lawyers, and government officials to enforce it. The civil law in the Australian legal system helps keep the rule of law intact.

– Access to justice: Access to justice is necessary for every Australian citizen and resident. The Australian legal system is committed to delivering justice to all its residents in a quick and timely manner. The civil law in the Australian legal system allows justice to run smoothly and quickly for each resident.

– Legal certainty: Legal certainty is the state of being certain about some future events.  The Australian legal system has an effective civil law that helps ensure legal certainty for its residents.

– Rule of equity: The rule of equity is a critical part of any legal system that ensures everyone is treated fairly. The Australian legal system has an effective civil law that helps keep the rule of equity intact and accessible to all residents.

– Protection of human rights: Human rights are the inherent rights that all people possess that cannot be taken away by any government, person, or organization. The civil law in the Australian legal system helps protect and enforce the human rights of all its residents

Key Differences between Criminal and Civil Law

  • In the Criminal Law system, a person is found guilty or innocent. There is no in-between.
  • In the Civil Law system, however, the parties to a dispute may be found to be in breach of contract or not, but the parties can be found to be partially in breach. In matters such as residence (custody) and contact (access) disputes in family law, parents may be granted some form of shared arrangement.
  • In criminal law, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. In civil law, the burden of proof is on the party who is making the claim.
  • In criminal law the standard of proof is beyond reasonable doubt, while in civil law the standard of proof is on the balance of probabilities.
  • Different rules of evidence may be applied in criminal law and civil law.
  • In criminal law, the court can impose fines or imprisonment. In civil law, the court can impose only fines.
  • Criminal law is enforced by the state and is prosecuted by the state. Civil law is enforced by individuals and is prosecuted by individuals.

Types of Civil Cases in Australia

The types of civil cases and many. Here are a few examples:

  • Contract Law is the most common type of civil law in Australia. A contract is a legally binding agreement between two or more parties (contracting parties). When someone breaches a contract, the other party has the right to take them to court for breach of contract. Common examples of contract law include breach of contract, breach of promise, breach of employment contract, and breach of fiduciary duty.
  • Torts are a type of civil law in Australia that deals with intentional wrongs committed against individuals or their property. Tort Law includes cases related to negligence, nuisance, trespass, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution.
  • Property Law is another form of the civil law in Australia. This type of law deals with the ownership of goods and land. It also deals with disputes that arise from the use of goods like cars, boats, and houses.
  • Family Law is another type of civil law in Australia that deals with issues pertaining to divorce, child custody, child support, spousal maintenance, adoption, and child abduction.

Summary of What is Civil Law in Australia

Civil law deals with the regulation of private conduct between individuals, organisations and government agencies. As we have seen, there are many differences between the civil law and the criminal law. While both of these legal systems are important for setting the standards for social conduct, they deal with different areas of law. The criminal law deals with actions that are considered to be wrong by the society as a whole. The civil law deals with contractual agreements and other contractual rights and obligations. Civil law also covers a much wider variety of types of cases and areas of law.

This has been an overview of what is civil law in Australia and its importance in the Australian legal system.

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