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Words of law is a regular feature of Massachusetts Law Updates, highlighting a particular word or phrase and its meaning in law.

Today’s word is codification.

codification (kod-ә-fi-kay-shәn), n. (1802) 1. The process of compiling, arranging, and systematizing the laws of a given jurisdiction, or of a discrete branch of the law, into an ordered code. 2. The code that results from this process. – codify (kod-ә-fī), vb. – codifier (kod-ә-fī-әr), n.

“It was [Jeremy] Bentham who coined the word ‘codification’ and invented the term ‘international law.’ The meaning he attached to codification is found in his ‘General View of a Complete Code of Laws,’ published in 1802. According to him, the object of a code is that anyone may be able to consult the law as he stands in need, in the least possible time; he was convinced that ‘to be without a code is to be without justice.’ The code was conceived by him to be complete and self-sufficing, and in style to be characterized by force, harmony, and nobleness. Once prepared it was not be be developed, supplemented, or modified except by legislative enactment. It must remove the inconsistencies of law and the uncertainties and complexities of customary or judge-made law.” R.P. Dhokalia, The Codification of Public International Law 39 (1970).

 –  Black’s Law Dictionary, 10th ed., Bryan A. Garner, Editor in Chief, Thomson Reuters, 2014.

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