common law n: a body of law that is based on custom and general principles and embodied in case law and that serves as precedent or is applied to situations not covered by statute [the common law of torts]: as
a : the body of law that was first developed in the English courts of law as distinguished from equity and that allows for particular remedies (as damages or replevin) [in suits at common law …the right of trial by jury shall be preserved "U.S. Constitution amend. VII"] compare equity
b : the body of law developed in England that is the basis of U.S. federal law and of state law in all states except Louisiana see also the Judicial System in the back matter compare civil law , statutory law
Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.