How Does Civil Law Differ from Other Areas of Law?

There are dozens of other branches of law. Administrative law deals with the rules and regulations that govern governmental agencies. Admiralty law governs the law of the sea. Bankruptcy law is concerned with discharging debts through court proceedings. Criminal law focuses on punishing lawbreakers. Domestic law involves divorces, alimony, and child custody issues. Civil law is different than these other areas of law in several important respects. For instance, civil cases differ from the previously mentioned types of cases in all of the following ways: 

Parties 

Pleadings 

Rules 

Burden of proof 

Outcome 

In civil suits, private parties sue other private parties. Unlike criminal cases, which the government brings against an individual, a civil case involves private issues and grievances. Although governmental agencies can bring civil suits against individuals, the litigation point is to enforce a right or sue for damages. There are some important terms regarding civil suits that all legal professionals should know. The person who brings a civil suit is referred to as the plaintiff. The person who is being sued is the defendant. These terms are almost exclusively reserved for civil cases. Other names are used to refer to the parties in non-civil cases. The person or business filing for bankruptcy, for instance, is referred to as a “petitioner.” In criminal cases, the government brings an action against an individual or corporation to enforce statutes. The government is not referred to as a plaintiff in such a case. Instead, the government is termed the “state,” “the people,” or “The United States” (among other terms).

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