1. One of the two major legal systems of the modern Western world (the other is common law). Derived from Roman law, it is followed in the countries of continental Europe, their former colonies, Isle of Man, Latin America, Scotland, state of Louisiana in the US federation, and in Canada's Quebec province. In this system, a highly structured and rigid code of rules is observed to the letter, and an expert judge decides cases without the help of jury and without any reference to precedent. Under this system, every defendant who enters a criminal trial is presumed guilty until proven innocent, whereas under common law (practiced in most English-speaking countries) he or she is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Use civil law in a sentence