Civil law is the most widespread system of [[law]] in the world. It is also known as <em>European Continental law</em>. The central source of law that is recognised as authoritative are [[codification]]s in a [[constitution]] or [[statute]] passed by government, to amend a code. Civil law systems mainly derive from the [[Roman Empire]], and more particularly, the ''[[Corpus Juris Civilis]]'' issued by the Emperor [[Justinian]] ca. 529AD. This was an extensive reform of the law in the [[Eastern Empire]], bringing it together into codified documents. Civil law today, in theory, is interpreted rather than developed or made by judges. Only [[legislature|legislative]] enactments (rather than [[judiciary|judicial]] [[precedent|precedents]]) are considered legally binding. However, in reality courts do pay attention to previous decisions, especially from higher courts.
Scholars of [[comparative law]] and economists promoting the [[legal origins theory]] usually subdivide civil law into three distinct groups: