Law consists of the rules and mechanisms through which disputes are resolved. Although either can be provided privately, most modern societies rely, at least in part, on state institutions to provide both. The term common law has several meanings in describing those institutions. Libertarian writers in particular use common law to contrast, on the one hand, the body of judge-made legal rules developed through the resolution of disputes between private parties with, on the other hand, the statutes and regulations created by legislatures and enforced by state authorities. Many nonlibertarian legal scholars have expanded on this definition to include the legislative behavior of contemporary American courts. Common law also is frequently used to contrast legal systems with British heritage to those derived from French ...

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