In law, codification is the process of collecting and restating the law of a jurisdiction. They are listed, usually by subject, forming a legal code (a codex or book of law). Codification is the defining feature of civil law jurisdictions.
History[change | change source]
Ancient Sumer's Code of Ur-Nammu was compiled c. 2100-2050 BC. It is the earliest known surviving civil code. Three centuries later, the Babylonian king Hammurabi enacted the set of laws named after him.
Religious laws such as the Torah were codified. Important codifications were developed in the ancient Roman Empire, with the compilations of the Lex Duodecim Tabularum. Much later the Corpus Iuris Civilis was assembled. These codified laws were the exceptions rather than the rule. During much of ancient history the Roman laws were left mostly uncodified.
The first permanent system of codified laws could be found in China. This was with the compilation of the Tang Code in AD 624. This formed the basis of the Chinese criminal code. This was then replaced by the Great Qing Legal Code. This code was in turn abolished in 1912 following the Xinhai Revolution and the establishment of the Republic of China. The new laws of the Republic of China were inspired by the German codified work, the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch. A very influential example in Europe was the French Napoleonic code of 1804.
Another early system of laws is Hindu law framed by Manu and called as Manu Smriti. They date back to the 2nd century BC. The use of civil codes in Islamic Sharia law began with the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century AD.