Criminal Law and Civil Law: Main Differences And Functions In The UK

Criminal Law and Civil Law - Main Differences And Functions In The UK

Criminal Law and Civil Law: Main Differences And Functions In The UK

Law studies have a broad scope and depth. Two of the most crucial and broad categories to be aware of are criminal and civil laws. They consist of a major part of legal studies and have relevance in our daily lives also. Laws differ in their nature and implications from nation to nation as per locally defined objectives. For the students of the UK, it is necessary to understand all related legal topics according to the laws specifically focused on UK society.

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Criminal Law


Criminal law refers to the laws, rules, and regulations focused on criminal activities, judgment, and punishment. Criminal activities treated under criminal law include assault, violence, murder, theft, etc. These cases are treated under the criminal court system. Criminal cases are the ones hurting society. It sets boundaries on what will be acceptable in the UK society and whatnot. To know more, see our criminal law essay writing services.

Civil Law

Civil laws refer to the defined set of laws dealing with matters relating to individual rights, duties and dealings. These laws come into action when people have personal disputes due to a violation of their rights. It handles acts that do not affect society as a whole but rather disturb individuals. Civil law cases can be treated outside of a formal court system through methods like arbitration, mediation, etc. These lawsuits do not usually result in imprisonment. Cases such as family disputes, employment laws, breach of contract, etc., are most often solved under this law. You can know more details with our civil law essay help.

Main Differences Between Civil And Criminal Law

Besides the definition, civil and criminal law have several other properties and functions differentiating them from one another. Following are some of the main differences between them.

Burden Of Proof

A major difference between the two categories of law is in the burden of proof. Under criminal law, the burden of proof lies at the discretion of the state or the prosecutor. They have to prove the allegation put against the alleged person in court. If they fail to prove the crime to a defendant, he is considered innocent and gets rid of charges.

On the other hand, in civil law, the party bringing the lawsuit is called the plaintiff. The plaintiff is responsible for providing required evidence and proving the defendant guilty of the crime. If the jury is convinced by the arguments and evidence, the defendant faces the imposed liability.

Legal Penalties

The legal penalties also create the main difference between criminal and civil laws. If the jury finds the accused guilty, they reserve the right to impose legal penalties within the limits described in the criminal law. These penalties include punishments such as probation, fines, incarceration, etc.

The penalties in civil laws are quite different from those in criminal law. The defendant, if found guilty, might be liable to pay damages or fines. Civil lawsuits do not result in punishments such as incarceration or probation. These damages are paid against quantifiable loss that occurred to the plaintiff in the form of medical bills, loss of property or any other suffering.


The purpose of the criminal law is to punish the criminal for committing an offence that affected the whole society. This way, the key objective of criminal law becomes the punishment. It focuses on making the condition of the guilty exemplary for others not to commit similar crimes core focus is on the betterment of society with stable law conditions there.

Contritely, the civil law’s primary purpose and key objective is a remedy for the affected party. They seek to achieve a settlement between fighting parties and reach a negotiation to make them better off. It focuses on improving the situation of the affected party by providing them with the compensation they deserve.


Applicants filing the lawsuit or taking the case to court are among the most important differences between these laws. Under criminal law, the applicant brings the case to the court through the government. It is responsible for the follow-up and provision of the necessary evidence to prove its claim right.

On the other hand, is civil law where the applicant is the individual or the organisation who has suffered injustice due to the unlawful conduct of the accused party. They must prove their claim with enough shreds of evidence to get compensation against it. Otherwise, the person will be considered innocent by the jury.

Examples of Cases

Following are the main cases differentiated based on affected parties and impact on society. The criminal law examples include murder, assault, fraud, theft, burglary, manslaughter, etc.

On the other hand, the civil law examples include personal injury, property loss, contract breaches, non-fulfilment of contracts, etc.

Besides so many differences, there is some similarity between the two also. It is concerned with the appealing right of the parties. If any party is not satisfied with eh verdict of judges or juries in criminal and civil law cases, they reserve the right to appeal against the decision. This appeal is recorded with higher-ranking authorities such as high courts or Supreme Court.

Bottom line

These were the main differences between criminal and civil laws that differentiate them in detail. This difference makes them both vital for society despite the scope of focus. Both the laws are essential for all societies, and the shortcoming of anyone would affect them adversely. It is the responsibility of the members to respect both laws, understand their scope and abide by them.

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