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what is the definition of customary law

by Mr. Zechariah Crona Published 2 years ago Updated 1 year ago

Customary law is, by definition, intrinsic to the life and custom of indigenous peoples and local communities. What has the status of “custom” and what amounts to “customary law” as such will depend very much on how indigenous peoples and local communities

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What are examples of customary law?

  • legitimacy of children;
  • adoption, fostering and child welfare laws;
  • distribution of property on death;
  • accident compensation, including workers compensation, compensation on death, criminal injuries compensation and repatriation benefits;

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What are the characteristics of customary law?

Validity and Test of Customary Law: A Detailed Explanation

  • Characteristics of customary law. Flexibility: customary law is not rigid. ...
  • Validity of customary law. The court shall observe and enforce the observance of every local custom and shall not deprive any person of the benefit thereof except and when any ...
  • Test of Customary Law. ...

What is considered customary?

In international law, customary law refers to the Law of Nations or the legal norms that have developed through the customary exchanges between states over time, whether based on diplomacy or aggression. Essentially, legal obligations are believed to arise between states to carry out their affairs consistently with past accepted conduct.

What is customary rights?

‘Customary rights’ refer to established, traditional patterns of norms that can be observed within a particular socio-cultural setting (Thompson, 1991). Sets of customary rights and obligations may be called customary law. Customary rights exist where there is a consensus of relevant actors considering them to be ‘law’.


What is the meaning of customary law?

Customary law is a set of customs, practices and beliefs that are accepted as obligatory rules of conduct by indigenous peoples and local com- munities. Customary law forms an intrinsic part of their social and economic systems and way of life.

What is the rule of customary law?

customary law is “law consisting of customs that are accepted as legal requirements or. obligatory rules of conduct; practices and beliefs that are so vital and intrinsic a part of a. social and economic system that they are treated as if they were laws”.10.

What is another term for customary law?

the common law; the customary law; the unwritten law.

What are the four principles of customary law?

Examples of these general principles of law are laches, good faith, res judicata, and the impartiality of judges. International tribunals rely on these principles when they cannot find authority in other sources of international law.

What is an example of customary?

He forgot the customary “thank you.” It is customary to hold the door open for someone who is entering a building behind you. She dressed in her customary fashion. He did the work with his customary efficiency.

What is the difference between common law and customary law?

The origins of the legal rules found in these sources may differ considerably. The common law is a mixture of Roman-Dutch law and English law. Customary law, at least in its living form, consists of binding rules followed in traditional communities, and so on. The sources are interconnected, however.

What is an example of customary law?

Hunting and fishing rights; Aboriginal traditional marriages; Aboriginal child care practices; Traditional distribution on death; and.

Is customary law legally binding?

The Constitution says that customary law is protected, but the rules of customary law must be in line with the principles in the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights protects the right to culture. But it also protects the right to equality and non-discrimination, and the right to dignity.

How do you prove customary law?

The proof of customary law in court is governed by the copious provision of Section 16 of the Evidence Act 2011. The summary of the Act therefore is a customary law can either be proved by direct evidence to establish its existence or by established judicial notice.

What are the two elements of customary law?

The two essential elements of customary international law are state practice and opinio juris, as confirmed by the International Court of Justice in the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons.

What makes a customary marriage valid?

Requirements for a valid customary marriage The prospective spouses must both be above the age of 18 years; They must both consent to be married to each other under customary law; and. The marriage must be negotiated and entered into or celebrated in accordance with customary law.

What is customary law marriage?

According to section 1 of the Act 'customary marriage' means a marriage concluded in accordance with customary law, while 'customary law' means the customs and usages traditionally observed among the indigenous African peoples of South Africa and which form part of the culture of those peoples.

What is traditional law?

Here, we refer to traditional law as consisting of institutions (1) based on a rule that is not subject to deliberate human design and (2) enforced by actors that are independent from the state.

What is common law in South Africa?

South African common law is mainly the 17th and 18th century Roman-Dutch law that was transplanted to the Cape. This forms the basis of modern South African law and has binding authority. Examples of common law crimes include murder, robbery and rape, etc.

What is customary law?

Customary laws are customs which are accepted as legal requirements or rules of conduct. They are so vital to the functioning of a society that they are treated as law. These laws concern the norms, laws and practices of indigeneous and native people and communities.

Why is customary law important?

Customary law is important in protecting the traditional cultures and knowledge of indiegeneous people. In Africa it is important as it stops colonial laws from infringing on their way of life.

How can customary laws coexist with the Bill of Rights?

One way such customary laws can coexist with the Bill of Rights is by improving education on how customary laws may be discriminatory and offering citizens the choice to write a will that is in line with the common law to allow the heir to be a husband’s wife.

Do customary laws have to follow common law?

This means that these customary laws are not subject to any legislation that follows common law. These laws only have to follow the rule of constitutional law and so must follow the Bill of Rights. This can cause conflict.

Can customary laws coexist with the Bill of Rights in South Africa?

One conflict in South Africa is that customary laws do not abide by the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights protects the right to culture, but it also protects the right to equality, non-discrimination and dignity.

What is meant by the term customary law?

Customary law in Australia relates to the systems and practices amongst Aboriginal Australians which have developed over time from accepted moral norms in Aboriginal societies, and which regulate human behaviour, mandate specific sanctions for non-compliance, and connect people with the land and with each other, …

What is the difference between common law and customary law?

Common law systems are adversarial, rather than investigatory, with the judge moderating between two opposing parties. … Customary law systems are based on patterns of behavior (or customs) that have come to be accepted as legal requirements or rules of conduct within a particular country.

Why customary law is important?

Uncodified Customary Laws are also important because the ambit of such laws are much wider, the codified laws are binding upon only those who expressly consent to follow them, but the Customary Laws based on humanitarian grounds are binding upon everyone, and all laws must be made in keeping Customary Laws in mind.

What are customary practices?

Customary practices are defined as practices inherited from the past that are accepted and respected by the members of a community. Such practices become damaging to the health of children when they harm their physical or mental health, and thus threaten their lives or their development.

What countries use customary law?

Customary Law – A type of legal system that serves as the basis of, or has influenced, the present-day laws in approximately 40 countries – mostly in Africa, but some in the Pacific islands, Europe, and the Near East.

What are the duties of customary court?

In criminal matters or causes also, a Customary Court may play the role of promoting reconciliation and encourage and facilitate the settlement in an amicable way, of proceedings for common assault or for any other offence which the Court has jurisdiction to try and which is not aggravated in degree, on terms of …

What is a customary?

adjective. according to or depending on custom; usual; habitual. of or established by custom rather than law. Law. defined by long-continued practices: the customary service due from land in a manor.

What is customary law?

Customary Law. a body of unwritten norms, called customs (rules of conduct), that have arisen spontaneously and have been sanctioned by the state. A legal system incorporates only those customs that function as legal norms—that is, those that reflect the interests and will of the economically and politically dominant class—and ...

What is customary law in Soviet society?

Soviet law recognizes customary law in instances where legal codes do not cover a particular social relationship. For example, custom may supplement the basic conditions of a contract, and it is used in resolving disputes over the division of property in a kolkhoz household.

Why was customary law important in the feudal period?

In such Western European countries as France, customary law was important throughout the feudal period down to the formation of centralized absolute monarchies. The development of bourgeois social relations and the expansion of production and commodity exchange required firm guarantees of the stability of these relations—a system ...

Is customary law important in capitalist countries?

In contemporary capitalist countries customary law is not of great importance, with the exception of court practice, where the norms of customary law are used to decide cases in accordance with established customs.

What is national customary law?

National Customary law: National customary law is also called general customary law. There is a legal requirement for the general custom too. As it is said for a local custom, there is time requirement for a general custom. There are also other requirements: The very same considerations of public interest which induced our early law to impose up on local custom the requirement of immemorial antiquity are applicable with equal force to the general custom of the realm. The public interest requires that modern custom shall conform to the law, and not that the law shall conform automatically to newly established customs.

What is legal custom?

Legal Custom: As it was defined somewhere above, legal custom is one whose legal authority is absolute. It is independently sufficient to create legal rights and obligation without prior consent of the parties. Such custom is that which is effective as a source of law and legal rights directly and per se, and not merely indirectly through the medium of agreement in the manner already explained.

What is customary law?

Definition: There is no uniformly accepted definition of customary law, and different scholars define customary law in different ways. This is so because custom varies from place to place. As custom varies from place to place, and so there is no single accepted definition of it. However, it may be defined as a rule of conduct, which is accepted and governs a group of people. In addition to its lack of uniform definition, customary law is given different names by different scholars. Some scholars have referred to customary law as folk law, people’s law, unofficial law, indigenous law or primitive law often implying its inferior positions as compared with the modern western state originated laws.

What does Paton say about customs?

Paton (year)says that the custom ( a) must not conflict with any fundamental principle of the common law; (b) must have existed from time immemorial; (c) has been continuously observed and peacefully enjoyed; (d) be certain; (e) must not conflict with other established customs; (f) and be reasonable. These days, advanced local customary law continues to play some supplementing part in the adjustment of local interest. Nevertheless, advanced local customary law is diminishing as the result of the establishment of a universal system of law in a given state possessing clearly defined organs of legislation. Some of the codified civil law systems of modern times go so far even as to reject local custom altogether as being contrary to the objective of legal unification aimed at by the code.

What is the binding authority of conventional custom?

Conventional Custom: The binding authority of conventional custom emanates from not because it is in advance incorporated to the law, but because the parties have accepted it as practice. In this regard, Fitzgerald argue that usage or conventional custom is, as has been indicated, on established practice which is legally binding, not because of any legal authority independently possessed by it, but because it has been expressly or impliedly incorporated in a contract between the parties concerned. Fitzgerald further argues how conventional custom may be applicable in the area of contract. He says that in the contract entered between two parties the implied terms of the contract is supplied by implication to make the contract workable and complete.

What are the different types of customs?

Kinds of Custom: All customs which have the force of law are categorized into legal custom and conventional custom. “A legal custom is one whose legal authority is absolute, and one which in itself possesses the force of law. A conventional custom is one whose authority is conditional on its acceptance and incorporation in agreements between the parties to be bound by it.

What are the similarities between positive and customary law?

The other similarity between the two is the binding force each has though they differ in application. While positive law may have wide applicability, customary law may limit itself to the particular locality. Even if the extent to which they are going to bind differs, both customary law and positive law have a binding nature within a community. Both of them can adjust to the changing circumstances. Customary law is not rigid to changes, but capable of making itself flexible to accommodate the changing social, economic and political circumstances. Moreover, these rules, far from being absolutely inflexible and unchanging, are indeed in manner similar to the state legal system, subject to a process of constant adaptation to a new situation, old rules being re-interpreted and new rules being from time to time created.

What is customary international law?

Customary international law refers to international obligations arising from established international practices, as opposed to obligations arising from formal written conventions and treaties.

Which article of the Statute of the International Court of Justice provides for the use of customary international law?

Under Chapter II , Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice, international customs and general practices of nations shall be one of the court's sources of customary international law is one of the sources of international law.

What are customary laws?

Customary laws and protocols are central to the very identity of many indigenous peoples and local communities. These laws and protocols concern many aspects of their life. They can define rights and responsibilities of members of indigenous peoples and local communities on important aspects of their life, culture and world view: customary law can relate to use of and access to natural resources, rights and obligations relating to land, inheritance and property, conduct of spiritual life, maintenance of cultural heritage and knowledge systems, and many other matters. Customary law can help define or characterize the very identity of the community itself. Further, for many indigenous peoples and local communities, it may be meaningless or inappropriate to differentiate their laws as “customary”, suggesting it has some lesser status than other law – it simply constitutes their law as such.

What is the interplay between customary law and protocols and IP systems?

The interplay between customary law and protocols and IP systems is complex. This paper identifies some of the issues that may be important for future consideration; these are set out after each section. But there are some underlying and general themes that lie behind these more detailed issues. Discussion and exploration of these broader themes may also be helpful. These issues include:

What is the African model law?

African Model Legislation for the Protection of the Rights of Local Communities, Farmers and Breeders and for the Regulation of Access to Biological Resources Costa Rica Law No 7788 of 1998 on Biodiversity New Zealand Trade Marks Act 2002 (Section 17(1)(b))

What is custom law?

Custom or Customary law is the rules and practices that govern the native people of a society in their way of life and their roles and responsibilities towards each other in their society. Custom regulates and maintains social order within a society even to the extent of governing the lives of people outside their societies, in towns and cities. Custom is defined by the constitution as “ the usages of indigenous inhabitants of the country existing in relation to the matter in question at the time when and the place in relation to which the matter arises, regardless of whether or not the custom or usage has existed from time immemorial[1]”. The same definition is found in the Interpretation Act and the Underlying Law Act[2].

Why is customary law important?

In addition to that, customary law was made as an important source of the underlying law, and by the development of the underlying law as provided under the Underlying Law Act [6] would lead to an indigenous Melanesian jurisprudence that would adapt to the changing circumstances of the country.

How to recognize customary law in PNG?

To recognize the status of customary law in the legal system of PNG it is relevant to analyze the Underlying law Act 2000. This would help to show that custom is a source of law in PNG and also, how it is given preference over common law in terms of the order of application and development of the underlying law.

Why is it important to preserve our customary law?

I conclude by saying it is important for us to preserve our customary law and use it as the basis of our legal system because the majority of our people still leave and are governed by custom and most importantly because this social and cultural traditions have given each of us, and all of us, collectively as Papua New Guineans, our identity.

What is the law system in Papua New Guinea?

Papua New Guinea currently has a system of law that is often referred to as a dual system of law. We say that to mean that PNG has a dual court system made up of a formal court system and a customary court system, which is recognized and established by the government, because many villages in PNG still maintain traditional dispute-management agencies [3], which do not have the backing of the state. The formal courts are the courts established under the National Judicial [4] system of Papua New Guinea, and include those courts established under s172 [5] of the constitution. The customary courts on the other hand are, traditional agencies, which the people in the village normally resort to, time and time again, when people have disputes that they believe, can be better resolved in these traditional forums rather than the formal courts.

How important is custom in Papua New Guinea?

Custom is given a very important role within the legal system of Papua New Guinea as seen by its establishment in the constitution, its recognition by various statute and by the role it plays in the underlying law. However it still has not fully achieved what our forefathers had intended for it when formulating the constitution, and that is for custom to be the basis of our legal system. After 39 years of independence we still have not made any realistic headway in the development of the underlying law despite the constitutional directive [16].

What is the Underlying Law Act?

The Underlying law Act also gives the parties to a proceeding the opportunity to assist the court in deciding whether to apply a principle or rule of the customary law, a principle or rule of the common law or to formulate a new rule of the underlying law to resolve a subject matter before the court, by providing evidence and information to the court.


Why Is Customary Law Important?

  • Customary law is important in protecting the traditional cultures and knowledge of indiegeneous people. In Africa it is important as it stops colonial laws from infringing on their way of life. Most African countries’ legal systems have a mixture of laws from the colonial era, post-independence legislation, religious laws and customary laws which r...
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South African Customary Law

  • South Africa follows a pluralistic form of law. This means that many different kinds of laws operate under the same legal system. When the country instituted its constitution in 1996 after apartheid, customary law became a core part of the legal system. Under Section 211 the South African Constitution recognised customary law and traditional authority and protected them in their own …
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Can Customary Laws Coexist with The Bill of Rights in South Africa?

  • One conflict in South Africa is that customary laws do not abide by the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights protects the right to culture, but it also protects the right to equality, non-discrimination and dignity. For example, with inheritance rights, in some areas customary laws dictate that when a man in a customary marriage dies the heir will be the first born son, and not the husband’s wife. …
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