from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. The branch of law that deals with the legal rights and relationships of private individuals.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A category of law governing the relationship among persons (citizens or legal persons including corporations), as opposed to relations between the state and persons. Major subdivisions of private law include (depending on whether the jurisdiction belongs to the civil law, common law, or other legal tradition) torts and contracts or the law of obligations as well as property law, family law, commercial law, and the law of succession (probate and estates). It encompasses most areas of law considered civil law (i.e., non-criminal law), such as those governed by a civil code (in a civil-law or continental-traditional legal system).
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The pure private law of Rome, the Roman law of the sixth century, is generally designated Institutionen.