Customary Law

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Customary Law


a body of unwritten norms, called customs (rules of conduct), that have arisen spontaneously and have been sanctioned by the state. A legal system incorporates only those customs that function as legal norms—that is, those that reflect the interests and will of the economically and politically dominant class—and that the state adapts to specific political and economic conditions. Among historical law codes in which customs occupied an important place were the Code of Hammurabi, the Twelve Commandments, the Salic Law, and the Russkaia Pravda. In such Western European countries as France, customary law was important throughout the feudal period down to the formation of centralized absolute monarchies.

The development of bourgeois social relations and the expansion of production and commodity exchange required firm guarantees of the stability of these relations—a system of legal norms established by the state. In contemporary capitalist countries customary law is not of great importance, with the exception of court practice, where the norms of customary law are used to decide cases in accordance with established customs. Customary law plays a somewhat more important part in international relations, for example, in trade.

Soviet law recognizes customary law in instances where legal codes do not cover a particular social relationship. For example, custom may supplement the basic conditions of a contract, and it is used in resolving disputes over the division of property in a kolkhoz household. The Merchant Shipping Code of the USSR (arts. 134, 135, 149, and 151) states that agreements concerning such matters as the time allowed for loading operations and the payment due for delay after a ship has been loaded (demurrage) are concluded in conformity with the customs prevailing in the given port.


References in periodicals archive ?
According to the 2001 census, not many people in Namibia get married in terms of customary law.
These customary laws look not to be for Lakes state but rather for Dinka inhabitants because many penalties are based on cows and unrealistic monetary calculus.
Tribal tradition and customary law are therefore held in high esteem even in relation to the diffusion of tension and reconciliation between members of different tribes.
The customary laws in many regions of the world often follow the Western concept of registering land titles to individuals than groups while many indigenous groups worldwide have been claiming for communal land title registration:
Most other nations in the Muslim world have legal systems that incorporate Islamic law as customary law in the framework of common or civil law.
Conservation measures become very effective when the villagers take responsibility," said Dr Melville Pereira, an expert on customary law at the North Eastern Social Research Centre, Guwahati.
But Amina Bencheikh, member of the Royal Institute for the Amazigh Culture (IRCAM), said the changes in the family law were not significant because "Amazigh customary laws (before they were removed) already guarantee all these rights for women.
135) There is no discussion of whether statutory law should supersede customary laws or practices.
As described in Part I (A), under South African customary laws of marriage and succession and until recently, men retained full access to their property and equality rights while they were given the power to determine women's access to those rights.
As Bulan observes, Malaysia, as a multicultural society, has "a plural legal system, integrating English common law, written law, syariah law and customary laws with the Federation Constitution as the supreme law of the land" (p.
An introduction defines some key terms (treaties, customary laws, etc.
The customary laws of war, when adapted for conflict with unlawful belligerents, must always incorporate rules of humanitarian restraint.