Lesson 1: History of Law


Activity 1: Sources of the Law Then and Now

After students have completed Handout 2: Ancient Rules and Laws: How Do They Apply Today? It can be submitted for marks. The answer key is below.

  1. When and where did the common law system develop?
    It was developed in the eleventh century in England.
  2. How did common law develop?
    The justiciars decided similar cases in the same way.
  3. Where did the word sheriff come from?
    In the fifth century, Anglo-Saxon tribes in England had elected officials called “reeves.” Sometimes an entire district or “shire” was administered by one reeve, so that person would be referred to as the “shire reeve.”
  4. What was the role of the justiciars?
    The justiciars traveled the countryside to solve the local disputes which affected the King’s interests.
  5. What does it mean when we say a judge follows a precedent?
    The judge follows a decision made in another case because the facts are similar.
  6. If the king did not like the common law what could he do about it?
    He could make his own statute law.
  7. Who makes statute law today in Canada?
  8. Why do you think King Hammurabi carved his code onto the stone?
    So everyone would know what the laws were and the penalties.
  9. Where did the jury system we use today come from?
  10. Why do you think written contracts were developed to deal with marriage and selling of excess goods?
    Such contracts clearly set down the agreement between the parties in case of a dispute.
  11. Which ancient people created the idea of a company?
  12. Why did the Babylonians throw an accused person in the water to see if s/he drowned or not?
    They left the decision to chance as they were unable to decide who was correct or telling the truth and this seemed a fair method of deciding.
  13. How would you describe the penalties of ancient times?
    Very harsh and very severe.
  14. Do you think the use of the wergild to pay for the value of someone killed was a good way of solving a dispute? Explain.
    Yes, because the blood feuds wasted a lot of lives.
  15. Who developed the laws of tort, public laws, procedural laws, and family laws in ancient times?
    Solon, a Greek lawgiver.
  16. How can you tell that the ownership of land was important in ancient times?
    Rights and responsibilities of ownership were clearly set out.