Civil law Civil law is concerned with rights and duties between individuals. When there is a breach of a right or a failure of duty then the aim of the civil law is to put the parties into the position they would have been in if there had been no breach or failure. This
is not always possible; for example in negligence cases where the claimant has been left paralysed or with other permanent injuries. In such cases the court awards damages (a sum of money) as compensation. Apart from trying to correct past breaches, the courts, in some cases, may be asked to make an order to prevent a future breach of a right. For example, where trespass or harassment is likely to occur in the future, the courts can grant an injunction forbidding this. Civil law has many different branches. The main areas that are likely to lead to court cases are contract law, the law of tort, family law, the law of succession, company law, employment law and land law. However, there are also many other specialist areas, varying from copyright and patents to marine law, on which the courts may be required to adjudicate. This book does not deal with the actual legal rules of any of the areas, only with the system for dealing with disputes. As civil law involves regulating disputes between private individuals and businesses, it is also called private law. Civil cases are started by the person or business complaining of the breach or failure.