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Latin legal maxims (called brocards) were compiled for guidance.In medieval England, royal courts developed a body of precedent which later became the common law.By the 22nd century BC, the ancient Sumerian ruler Ur-Nammu had formulated the first law code, which consisted of casuistic statements ("if … Around 1760 BC, King Hammurabi further developed Babylonian law, by codifying and inscribing it in stone.Hammurabi placed several copies of his law code throughout the kingdom of Babylon as stelae, for the entire public to see; this became known as the Codex Hammurabi.
The history of law links closely to the development of civilization.
State-enforced laws can be made by a collective legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes, by the executive through decrees and regulations, or established by judges through precedent, normally in common law jurisdictions.
Private individuals can create legally binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that may elect to accept alternative arbitration to the normal court process.
As nationalism grew in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Law Merchant was incorporated into countries' local law under new civil codes.
The Napoleonic and German Codes became the most influential.Criminal law deals with conduct that is considered harmful to social order and in which the guilty party may be imprisoned or fined.