The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Common Law

  • P. S. Atiyah
Reference work entry


Common law is a system of law and legal processes which originated in England shortly after the Norman Conquest and after several centuries of continuous development was exported to the English colonies, and so came to be the basis of the law of the greater part of the United States, as well as of Australia, New Zealand, most of Canada and (to a lesser degree) also of India, Pakistan, Bangla Desh and many parts of Africa. The chief characteristic of the common law has always been that its development has lain largely in the hands of the judges, and that it has therefore grown and changed incrementally, case by case, in the course of actual litigation.

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. S. Atiyah
    • 1
  1. 1.