Which aspects of the English legal system are characterized by clear influences from France?

How is this reconciled with the different (civil/common law) paradigms?

For example, the justices of the peace act 1361 was literally passed in French! How was the Norman conquest able to exert such immense influence on the legislative system, yet the common law paradigm managed to be preserved?

  • I imagine that they'd be significantly reduced after Brexit.
    – nick012000
    Oct 2, 2022 at 9:17
  • 2
    The Scandinavians had tremendous impact and they didn't even keep the Danelag after about 1050 AD.
    – Trish
    Oct 2, 2022 at 9:28

1 Answer 1


The common law is an Anglo-Norman hybrid, not an Anglo-French one

At the time of the Conquest, neither France nor England had a consistent or uniform legal system. Instead, both had regional patchworks of law administered by local lords, sheriffs, and tradition.

The Conquest was in 1066. The earliest recognizable common law concepts are about 200 years later. Civil law is even more recent - it dates from the Code Napoleon in 1804 although, obviously, this did not emerge from a vacuum with roots in Roman law.

  • Do note that Civil Law styles itself after Roman Law in many regards. Some of the gap is bridged by church law.
    – Trish
    Oct 2, 2022 at 9:41
  • 1
    The usual story in civil law is to describe the "reception" of Roman law basically upon ancient Roman law texts through the early modern period, with a subsequent standardization and removal of local customs and privileges from the lode with the Code Napoleon. While the standardization is much later than common law, the deep origins in Roman law are older and the reception is contemporaneous.
    – ohwilleke
    Oct 2, 2022 at 22:41

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