Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Lex Non Scripta Definition:

Unwritten law; the common or custom law.

Related Terms: Lex Scripta, Common Law, Custom

Distinguished from lex scripta.

Matthew Hale wrote, in The History of the Common Law of England and An Analysis of the Civil Part of the Law (London: Henry Butterworth, Law-Bookseller, 1820):

"... when I call those parts of our laws (lex) non scripta, I do not mean as if those laws were only oral, or communicated from the former ages to the later, merely by word; for all those laws have their monuments in writing, whereby they are transferred from one age to another, and without which they would soon lose all kind of certainty; for as the civil ... laws have their ... determinations extant in writing; so those laws of England which are not comprised under the titles of acts of parliament, are for the most part extant in records of pleas, proceedings and judgments; in books of reports and judicial decisions; in tractates of learned men's argument and opinions, preserved from antient (sic) times, and still extant in writing."

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