The UK, Finland and New Zealand assert the ideal of parliamentary sovereignty, whereby the unelected judiciary may not overturn law passed by a democratic legislature. The third type of legal system—accepted by some countries without separation of church and state—is religious law, based on scriptures. The specific system that a country is ruled by is often determined by its history, connections with other countries, or its adherence to international standards. The sources that jurisdictions adopt as authoritatively binding are the defining features of any legal system. Yet classification is a matter of form rather than substance since similar rules often prevail. The Old Testament dates back to 1280 BC and takes the form of moral imperatives as recommendations for a good society.
Admiralty law also encompasses specialised issues such as salvage, maritime liens, and injuries to passengers. Family law covers marriage and divorce proceedings, the rights of children and rights to property and money in the event of separation. Evidence law involves which materials are admissible in courts for a case to be built. In exceptional circumstances defences can apply to specific acts, such as killing in self defence, or pleading insanity.
- In a narrow sense, common law is the