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Resource Centre > Glossary > Legal families

Comparative law established the theory of legal families, now also referred to as legal traditions. There have been three main legal families: common law, civil law, and socialist law family. The latter is now virtually obsolete. While common law systems (UK, Ireland, USA) are based on case law, casuistic and case-specific in approach, civil law systems do not afford the force of binding law to precedent – they are based on codified statutes, and more principle-based.