Code of law

A code of law, also called a law code or legal code, is a type of legislation that purports to exhaustively cover a complete system of laws or a particular area of law as it existed at the time the code was enacted, by a process of codification.[1] Though the process and motivations for codification are similar in different common law and civil law systems, their usage is different.

First page of the 1804 original edition of the Napoleonic code

In a civil law country, a code of law typically exhaustively covers the complete system of law, such as civil law or criminal law. By contrast, in a common law country with legislative practices in the English tradition, modify[who?] the existing common law only to the extent of its express or implicit provision, but otherwise leaves the common law intact. A code entirely replaces the common law in a particular area, leaving the common law inoperative unless and until the code is repealed. In a third case of slightly different usage, in the United States and other common law countries that have adopted similar legislative practices, a code of law is a standing body of statute law on a particular area, which is added to, subtracted from, or otherwise modified by individual legislative enactments.