There are two legislative traditions that are very widespread in many countries; in particular one can speak about the common and civil law systems. This paper is aimed at discussing the similarities and differences between these approaches.
Furthermore, one should show how these differences can affect the work of many companies, for instance, American firms that operate at an international level. On the whole, it is possible to argue that the difference between these systems can create significant challenges for many businesses.
First of all, one should remember common law system is based on the premise that courts have a right to develop rules or principles that regulate some aspects of human activities. This issue is particularly relevant if one speaks about such aspects as contracts or tort litigation (Cross 181).
Close attention should be paid to the so-called precedents or the decisions took by judges in the past (Schubert 88). These professionals have to rely on precedents when they need to address similar cases or disputes. Nevertheless, these people can also adopt new rules if they see that existing legislation is not sufficient for resolving a particular problem.
This is one of the main peculiarities that should be kept in mind. In contrast, civil law system is based on the collected and ordered set of regulations and rules that were adopted by the government (Cross 181). The main issue is that courts are only allowed to interpret existing regulations.
In other words, they are forced to operate within certain limits. Nevertheless, they do not usually have the opportunity to introduce new rules. This is one of the main differences that one can identify. These discrepancies can affect both individuals and organizations when they have to live or operate in a new legal environment.
Nevertheless, one should not assume that these approaches have nothing in common. For example, in each of these systems criminal activities are evaluated according to the statutes that cannot be altered by a judge (Cross 181). Furthermore, even in common law traditions, judges have to follow certain principles while interpreting existing precedents or identifying new ones (Antoine 44).
Apart from that, the decision of the supreme courts in civil law countries can sometimes have binding power. This is one of the issues that should be taken into consideration by organizations and individuals.
The companies that are based in the United States can encounter several challenges while operating at an international level. These organizations are accustomed to common law tradition, and sometimes, it is difficult for these firms to work in a different legal environment.
This is one of the main issues that be taken into account by business administrators. For example, one can mention such a company as Apple that was forced to make its online store compatible with mp3 players manufactured by their competitors (Norwegian Consumer Council. 1).
Provided that this company had been operating only in the United States, it would have been easier for them uphold their rights. Yet, Norway is a country with civil law tradition and the judges working in this country have to adhere to certain codified regulations. This is one of the examples that one can provide.
Furthermore, one can mention about the difficulties faced by Google when it began its operations in China. This corporation was forced to comply with existing laws regarding free speech and censorship. These restrictions could have violated the main values of this company.
This is one of the reasons why this corporation decided to move to Hong Kong in which common law system is adopted (Miller 183). In this legal environment, this organization can better protect itself from the intrusion of the government. Overall, such difficulties are faced by other American firms.
These cases suggest common law system can actually create an unfair advantage for some organizations, especially if one is speaking about local producers. This argument is particularly relevant to the case of Apple since this organization was forced to give away its competitive advantage to some of its key rivals.
Nevertheless, while evaluating common and civil law traditions, one should not overlook the political culture of a country. For instance, a civil law system can be rather effective in fully democratic countries. Nevertheless, this model can function very poorly when it is used in a totalitarian or autocratic state. This is the main argument that should be taken into consideration.
These cases indicate that common and civil law systems differ in several ways. One should focus on the opportunities that are available to judges. In the common law tradition, they are enabled to act as legislators who can introduce new rules by setting precedents. In contrast, civil law tradition implies that the decisions of these professionals should be based on existing statutes.
They have to operate within certain limits. This difference can profoundly affect the work of American companies that are accustomed to common law legal tradition. However, the differences between these traditions can be better described by looking at the political system of various countries.
Antoine, Rose-Marie. Commonwealth Caribbean Law and Legal Systems, London: Routledge, 2008. Print.
Cross, Frank. West’s Legal Environment of Business: Text and Cases: Ethical, Regulatory, International, and E-commerce Issues, New York: Cengage Learning, 2007. Print.
Miller, Roger. Business Law, New York: Cengage Learning, 2011. Print.
Norwegian Consumer Council 2012. Complaint against iTunes Music Store. PDF File. 24 Feb. 2012. <http://web.archive.org/web/20060613185025/http://forbrukerportalen.no/filearchive/Complaint%20against%20iTunes%20Music%20Store.pdf>
Schubert, Frank. Introduction to Law and the Legal System, Boston: Cengage Learning, 2011. Print.