Criminal law: to protect the general public from harm. The Crown (government) will prosecute the case to ensure that guilty offenders are punished on behalf of society.
Civil law: to resolve private disputes between private individuals or organizations.
Tort law: to protect an individual’s bodily safety and security, to protect tangible and intellectual property and to protect an individual’s reputation. A remedy can be sought for compensation, usually monetary damages. The compensation is to make up for the loss or damage suffered by the victim of the wrongdoing.
There is some overlap with criminal and tort law. However the point of difference with tort law and criminal law, is that tort law allows a “claimant” (victim) to seek a remedy that suits him/her.
Civil actions may follow criminal action. There have even been times where the offender was found not guilty in a criminal case but was then found liable for compensation in a civil action. A famous case is O.J.Simpson who was found not guilty of murdering his ex-wife and partner in the criminal case but was then found liable by the civil trial and ordered to pay USD 33 million in damages to the victim’s families.
Kleeman, G., et.al. (2008) Commerce.dot.com (2nd edition).
www.skwirk.com.au retrieved on 2 August, 2010.