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Civil Law

Civil law is the set of rules that govern your private relationships with other people. The state does not take sides in a dispute between private people.


Cases such as marriage and divorce; if someone owes you money; rental agreements; evictions; damage to property; injuries to people and disputes over credit agreements.

A civil case is usually brought by a person (called the plaintiff) who feels that he or she was wronged by another person (called the defendant). If the plaintiff wins the case, the court usually orders the defendant to pay compensation (money).

Sometimes the court may also order a defendant to do, or stop doing, something – for example, to stop damaging the plaintiff’s property.

The state may be involved in a civil case as a party if it is suing or being sued for a wrongful act – for example, if government property is damaged or a government official injures somebody without good reason.

When a case is brought before the magistrate the plaintiff must prove “on a balance of probabilities” that the defendant is wrong. “On a balance of probabilities” means simply that one side has more evidence in its favour than the other, even by the smallest degree.

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