The term "civil law" may connote two things. One, it means a legal system which is different from the Common Law System. An example of a country with the Civil Law System is France.

The second meaning is to see civil law as a body of rules which regulates such subject-matters as contract, employment, company matters, torts and so on. In this sense, civil law may be contrasted with criminal law which imposes punishments on offenders.

Civil law does not aim to punish wrongdoers in terms of a party who breaches his responsibilities in relation to a contract. However, it may impose non-punitive reliefs such as damages, injunction, e.t.c. Again, a civil matter usually has a lifespan. For instance, if two people have a contractual dealing and there is need for either of them to take a legal action, unless the action is taken within a year, the right to take such action may become expired.
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