Civil Law

Out of extensive trading grew business practices that were to have a tremendous impact upon future civilizations. Legal partnerships, business letters, agreements, lawsuits, the lending of money at interest, precious metals as a standard of weight and measure, personal and real property rights represented in deeds, wills, leases, contracts and promissory notes, flood insurance and the like.

Law and justice were key concepts in the Babylonian way of life. Justice was administered by the courts, each of which consisted of from one to four judges. Often the elders of a town constituted a tribunal. The judges could not reverse their decisions for any reason, but appeals from their verdicts could be made to the king. Evidence consisted either of statements from witnesses or of written documents. Oaths, which played a considerable role also in the administration of justice, could be either promissory, declaratory, or exculpatory. The courts inflicted penalties ranging from capital punishment and mutilation to flogging, reduction to slavery, and banishment. Awards for damages were from 3 to 30 times the value of the object to be restored.