Civil Law Is Prescriptive and as Such Tells Us How We Ought to Behave.

Civil Law Is Prescriptive and as Such Tells Us How We Ought to Behave


Civil law is a legal system that focuses on private disputes between individuals or organizations. It encompasses various areas such as contracts, torts, family law, property law, and more. Unlike criminal law, civil law deals with non-criminal offenses and aims to provide remedies for victims rather than punishing wrongdoers. One of the fundamental characteristics of civil law is its prescriptive nature, which tells us how we ought to behave. This article explores the concept of civil law as prescriptive, its implications, and addresses frequently asked questions related to this topic.

Understanding Civil Law as Prescriptive:

Civil law acts as a guideline for individuals and organizations on how they should conduct themselves in society. It outlines the rights and responsibilities of individuals, providing a framework for resolving disputes and maintaining order. By establishing legal norms and standards, civil law aims to promote fairness, justice, and social harmony.

Civil law prescribes how individuals should behave in various aspects of life. For instance, contract law outlines the obligations and rights of parties entering into agreements, ensuring that they fulfill their promises. Family law provides guidelines on marriage, divorce, child custody, and inheritance, guiding individuals on how they ought to navigate these personal relationships. Property law defines the rights and obligations associated with owning and transferring property, so individuals understand how they should interact with their assets.

Implications of Civil Law as Prescriptive:

1. Legal Certainty: Civil law provides individuals with clear guidelines on permissible and impermissible behavior. This clarity fosters legal certainty, allowing individuals to understand the consequences of their actions and make informed decisions.

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2. Dispute Resolution: Civil law offers a structured mechanism for resolving disputes. By outlining the legal remedies available to victims, it encourages peaceful settlement and discourages vigilantism or resorting to self-help measures.

3. Protection of Rights: Civil law protects the rights of individuals by defining their entitlements and setting limits on what others can do. It ensures that people are treated fairly and that their rights are not infringed upon.

4. Social Order: The prescriptive nature of civil law contributes to maintaining social order. By providing a set of rules and regulations, it guides individuals’ behavior, reducing conflicts and promoting a harmonious society.


1. How is civil law different from criminal law?

Civil law deals with private disputes between individuals or organizations, while criminal law focuses on offenses against society as a whole. Civil law seeks remedies for victims, whereas criminal law seeks to punish wrongdoers.

2. Can civil law change over time?

Yes, civil law can change over time to reflect societal developments and changing norms. Legal systems often adapt to meet the needs of a changing society.

3. What happens if someone violates civil law?

Violating civil law may result in legal consequences such as financial compensation to the victim, injunctions, or other remedies deemed appropriate by the court. The aim is to restore the victim to their pre-offense position and deter future misconduct.

4. Is civil law the same in all countries?

No, civil law varies across different jurisdictions. Each country may have its own legal system, influenced by cultural, historical, and constitutional factors.

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Civil law, as a prescriptive system, goes beyond merely resolving disputes. It offers a framework for individuals to understand their rights and obligations, guiding their behavior and promoting a just and harmonious society. By providing legal certainty, dispute resolution mechanisms, and protection of rights, civil law plays a crucial role in shaping how we ought to behave in various aspects of our lives. Understanding civil law’s prescriptive nature contributes to creating a society that values fairness, justice, and respect for one another.