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The body of law derived from judicial decisions, rather than from statutes or constitutions; [synonym] CASELAW, [contrast] STATUTORY LAW." This usage is given as the first definition in modern legal dictionaries, is characterized as the “most common” usage among legal professionals, and is the usage frequently seen in decisions of courts.
In this connotation, "common law" distinguishes the authority that promulgated a law.
"Common law" as the term is used today in common law countries contrasts with ius commune.
These "common law systems" are legal systems that give great precedential weight to common law, and to the style of reasoning inherited from the English legal system.
This body of common law, sometimes called "interstitial common law", includes judicial interpretation of the Constitution, of legislative statutes, and of agency regulations, and the application of law to specific facts.
While all decisions in common law jurisdictions are precedent (at varying levels and scope as discussed throughout the article on precedent), some become "leading cases" or "landmark decisions" that are cited especially often.
The defining characteristic of “common law” is that it arises as precedent.
In cases where the parties disagree on what the law is, a common law court looks to past precedential decisions of relevant courts, and synthesizes the principles of those past cases as applicable to the current facts.