§1-1  Common law of the State; exceptions.  The common law of England, as ascertained by English and American decisions, is declared to be the common law of the State of Hawaii in all cases, except as otherwise expressly provided by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or by the laws of the State, or fixed by Hawaiian judicial precedent, or established by Hawaiian usage; provided that no person shall be subject to criminal proceedings except as provided by the written laws of the United States or of the State. [L 1892, c 57, §5; am L 1903, c 32, §2; RL 1925, §1; RL 1935, §1; RL 1945, §1; RL 1955, §1-1; HRS §1-1]

 

Attorney General Opinions

 

  Common-law authority establishes that governmental bodies possess inherent power to receive gifts to be used in implementing their functions.  Att. Gen. Op. 92-4.

 

Law Journals and Reviews

 

  Beach Access:  A Public Right?  23 HBJ 65.

  Native Hawaiian Cultural Practices Under Threat.  I HBJ No. 13, at pg. 1.

  On the Reception of the Common Law in the Hawaiian Islands.  III HBJ No. 13, at pg. 87.

  The Lum Court and Native Hawaiian Rights.  14 UH L. Rev. 377.

  Pele Defense Fund v. Paty:  Exacerbating the Inherent Conflict Between Hawaiian Native Tenant Access and Gathering Rights and Western Property Rights.  16 UH L. Rev. 207.

  Public Access Shoreline Hawaii v. Hawaii County Planning Commission:  The Affirmative Duty to Consider the Effect of Development on Native Hawaiian Gathering Rights.  16 UH L. Rev. 303.

  The Reassertion of Native Hawaiian Gathering Rights Within The Context of Hawai`i's Western System of Land Tenure.  17 UH L. Rev. 165.

  Cultures in Conflict in Hawai`i:  The Law and Politics of Native Hawaiian Water Rights.  18 UH L. Rev. 71.

  Customary Revolutions:  The Law of Custom and the Conflict of Traditions in Hawai`i.  20 UH L. Rev. 99.

  The Backlash Against PASH:  Legislative Attempts To Restrict Native Hawaiian Rights.  20 UH L. Rev. 321.

  The Latest Take on Background Principles and the States' Law of Property After Lucas and Palazzolo.  24 UH L. Rev. 497.

  Loko i`a:  A Legal Guide to the Restoration of Native Hawaiian Fishponds Within the Western Paradigm.  24 UH L. Rev. 657.

  Wiping Out the Ban on Surfboards at Point Panic.  27 UH L. Rev. 303.

  Biopiracy in Paradise?:  Fulfilling the Legal Duty to Regulate Bioprospecting in Hawai`i.  28 UH L. Rev. 387.

  The Hawaiian Usage Exception to the Common Law:  An Inoculation Against the Effects of Western Influence.  30 UH L. Rev. 319.

  Public Beach Access:  A Right for All?  Opening the Gate to Iroquois Point Beach.  30 UH L. Rev. 495.

  The "Hawaiianness" of Same-Sex Adoption.  30 UH L. Rev. 517.

  Method is Irrelevant:  Allowing Native Hawaiian Traditional and Customary Subsistence Fishing to Thrive.  32 UH L. Rev. 203 (2009).

  William S. Richardson:  Developing Hawai`i's Lawyers and Shaping the Modern Hawai`i Court System.  33 UH L. Rev. 33 (2010).

  The Life of the Law is Perpetuated in Righteousness:  The Jurisprudence of William S. Richardson.  33 UH L. Rev. 99 (2010).

  The Moon Court, Land Use, and Property:  A Survey of Hawai`i Case Law 1993-2010.  33 UH L. Rev. 635 (2011).

  Demolition of Native Rights and Self Determination:  Act 55's Devastating Impact through the Development of Hawaii's Public Lands.  35 UH L. Rev. 297 (2013).

  Nā Mo`o o Ko`olau:  The Water Guardians of Ko`olau Weaving and Wielding Collective Memory in the War for East Maui Water.  41 UH L. Rev. 189 (2018).

 

Case Notes

 

Generally.

  As this section does not establish the supremacy of the 1840 Constitution over the current state constitution, or somehow render the documents concurrent, whether chapter 431 violated the 1840 Constitution was immaterial for purposes of defendant's conviction.  90 H. 130 (App.), 976 P.2d 444.

  Article XII, §7 of the Hawaii constitution and/or this section do not authorize for native Hawaiian grandparents any more visitation rights than §571-46(7) and §571-46.3 authorize for all grandparents, native and non-native Hawaiian.  112 H. 113 (App.), 144 P.3d 561.

 

Background of statute; general principles.

  Prior to 1893, common law (usually) or civil law, not contrary to Hawaiian law or usage, followed as reason and equity dictated (L 1847, p 5; cc 1859, §§14, 823).  2 H. 209; 3 H. 90, 95; 3 H. 106, 112; 5 H. 543; 6 H. 718, 725; 8 H. 77, 80; 13 H. 499, 505; 17 H. 393, 410; 27 H. 626; 27 H. 671, 674; 31 H. 661, 669, reh'g denied 31 H. 796; 41 H. 634; 45 H. 373, 383-84, 369 P.2d 96; 46 H. 425, 429, 380 P.2d 762.

  Effective January 1, 1893, common law adopted "except as otherwise provided..., or fixed by Hawaiian judicial precedent, or established by Hawaiian usage...."  Effect of Hawaiian judicial precedent:  10 H. 421, 436; 16 H. 294, 303; 20 H. 146, 149; 25 H. 701, 708; 27 H. 626, 628; 31 H. 661, 669, reh'g denied 31 H. 796; 38 H. 479, 481; 40 H. 92; 45 H. 373, 383-84, 369 P.2d 96; 46 H. 425, 429, 380 P.2d 762; 49 H. 273, 414 P.2d 925.  Statute gives Hawaiian decisions "the force of a statute".  25 H. 701, 708; 42 H. 518, 525.  Effect of Hawaiian usage:  10 H. 408 (conveyance by lessor); 10 H. 421, 436 (conveyance by disseisee); 12 H. 375, 391 (estates tail, fees simple conditional); 16 H. 377, 389, overruled on another point 25 H. 397, 405, 21 H. 74, 83 (merger of estates); 18 H. 91, 96, aff'd 212 U.S. 208 (deed of release); 20 H. 146, 149 (whether agreement void for champerty); 24 H. 47, 57; 31 H. 376, 383; aff'd 52 F.2d 356 (water rights); 49 H. 273, 414 P.2d 925 (adoption).

  Rejection, previous to 1893, of essential parts of common law justifies present rejection of other parts; and previous application (contrary to common law) of a general principle to one question justifies subsequent application to another question.  10 H. 421, 436; 12 H. 375, 380; 16 H. 615, 628; 31 H. 661, 669, reh'g denied 31 H. 796; 40 H. 92; 45 H. 373, 384, 369 P.2d 96.

  Court to consult both American and English decisions.  10 H. 421, 434; 14 H. 554, 561; 18 H. 588, 591, aff'd 212 U.S. 208; 22 H. 140, 144; 29 H. 571, 577; 30 H. 912, 938-43; 40 H. 86, 89; 49 H. 624, 629, 425 P.2d 1014.

  Statute adopting common law inapplicable where title already vested.  13 H. 499, 500.  Applicability to construction of will already probated, raised but not decided. 12 H. 375, 379-80.

  This section continued in effect by Hawaiian Organic Act.  1 U.S.D.C. Haw. 75, aff'd 114 F. 849; 305 U.S. 91, 108, aff'g 33 H. 34.

  Common law consists of principles, not set rules.  14 H. 554, 561; 22 H. 140, 144; 39 H. 460, 466, aff'd 205 F.2d 616; 40 H. 86, 89; 41 H. 106, 117-21; 42 H. 500.

  "Common law" adopted by this statute includes English statutes, unless too recent.  16 H. 294, 303; 20 H. 447, 450; 22 H. 140, 144; 40 H. 86, 89 (includes statutes passed before emigration of first settlers to America).  Includes statute of 13th Elizabeth governing fraudulent conveyances.  21 H. 1, 3; 39 H. 493, 496.  Includes rule against perpetuities.  18 H. 52, 69, aff'd 211 U.S. 321; 32 H. 323, 330; 34 H. 288, 293.

  This statute deemed to preclude adoption of modern rule.  22 H. 140; 28 H. 275, 276; 36 H. 107, 110; see 25 H. 357, 371, aff'd 272 F. 856, questioned 49 H. 456, 487, 421 P.2d 550.  But other cases hold court not required to follow a rule based on reasons which no longer exist or conditions which do not obtain.  10 H. 408, 413; 10 H. 421, 436; 14 H. 554; 27 F.2d 582, rev'g 29 H. 770; 40 H. 86, 89; 41 H. 527, 552.  Not required to follow a rule repugnant to the system established in Hawaii.  12 H. 375, 391.  May apply enlightened modern authorities.  29 H. 571, 577; 39 H. 460, 465, aff'd 205 F.2d 616; 198 F. Supp. 78, 105-11, aff'd 304 F.2d 149.

  Applicability of common law in determining duties of public officers.  29 H. 83, denying reh'g of 29 H. 21; 42 H. 14.  Right to sue on bail bond.  19 H. 4, 7.

  Common law does not remain in sedentary state.  52 H. 40, 469 P.2d 183.

  Rule against perpetuities is part of English common law.  52 H. 40, 469 P.2d 183.

  Referred to:  16 H. 731, 733; 17 H. 566, 569; 19 H. 88, 93; 19 H. 366, 375 (concurring opinion); 26 H. 699, 700; 27 H. 655, 659, aff'd 10 F.2d 474, 477; 46 H. 197, 209, 377 P.2d 609; 69 F.2d 681, 682; 190 U.S. 197, 217; 3 U.S.D.C. Haw. 176, 179; 238 F. Supp. 867.

 

Criminal law and procedure.

  See also notes under Effect of common law on statutory construction.

  Practice of putting question why sentence should not be pronounced, not indispensable.  3 H. 106.

  No common law offenses.  4 H. 39; 10 H. 469, 472; 11 H. 293, 300.

  Leave of court required for a nol. pros.  6 H. 718.

  Elements of offense where not defined, resort to common law.  25 H. 814.

  Appeal in mitigation fixed by Hawaiian judicial precedent.  38 H. 479, 481.

  Whether corroboration of accomplice required, governed by common law.  45 H. 16, 42, 361 P.2d 45.

  No common law offenses, and the applicable statute or ordinance itself must provide a penalty.  62 H. 656, 619 P.2d 93.

 

Effect of common law on statutory construction.

  Torrens Act construed in light of common law.  256 F.2d 208, 212, remanding 41 H. 490, modified 42 H. 661.

  Appellants' contention that native Hawaiian rights were exclusive and possessory was unsupported in the law.  76 F.3d 280.

  If plaintiff could prove that its custom and usage of subject land, prior to 1892, established its right of occupancy and use based upon the doctrine of individual aboriginal title, then that doctrine, as established in 1923, would apply.  Any aboriginal title that plaintiff may have had was extinguished; plaintiff failed to show that its use and occupancy of the area was exclusive as required by the doctrine.  875 F. Supp. 680.

  Plaintiff's claims of reserved rights of native tenants under Hawaii law did not extend to the right of perpetual and exclusive occupancy upon the land of another; plaintiff's ancestors' failure to claim kuleana title to subject land, which rendered them tenants at sufferance, foreclosed plaintiff's attempt to claim possessory rights to the land under Hawaii law.  875 F. Supp. 680.

  Statutes in derogation of common law strictly construed.  5 H. 41; 9 H. 23, 25; 10 H. 151, 159; 22 H. 765, 767 (explaining earlier cases); 23 H. 541, 545; 37 H. 374, 379 (ordinance); 37 H. 571, 580; 49 H. 624, 628, 425 P.2d 1014; 50 H. 201, 436 P.2d 752.  But should nevertheless be construed in accordance with legislative purpose.  41 H. 442, 459; 44 H. 59, 67, 352 P.2d 335.

  Grounds for annulment held exclusively statutory.  8 H. 77.

  Interpretation of words in criminal statute according to common law meaning.  8 H. 259; 22 H. 618, 629; 33 H. 560, 563.

  Marriage controlled by statute, no common law marriage.  25 H. 397.

  Usury statute as superseding common law.  36 H. 107.

  Statute codifying common law, interpreted according to modern decisions.  39 H. 460, 465, aff'd 205 F.2d 616.

  Common law as background in applying statutes prescribing time and place of trial.  46 H. 197, 209, note 4, 377 P.2d 728.

  The common law recognizes a cause of action for invasion of right of privacy where defendant uses plaintiff's name or picture for commercial purposes.  50 H. 374, 441 P.2d 141.

  Common law holds that right to rent to accrue on a lease of real property is an interest in realty.  Rent already due is personalty.  56 H. 295, 535 P.2d 1109.

  Common law rule for use of ancient documents as evidence construed.  57 H. 312, 555 P.2d 495.

  Joint owners of an animal may be liable in an action for injuries caused by such animal.  57 H. 620, 562 P.2d 779.

  "Hawaiian usage" must predate November 25, 1892.  58 H. 106, 566 P.2d 725.

  No evidence that "Hawaiian usage" gave to owner of land along seashore title to lava extensions created by volcanic eruption. 58 H. 106, 566 P.2d 725.

  Where practices have, without harm to anyone, been continued, reference to Hawaiian usage in section insures their continuance for so long as no actual harm is done thereby.  Retention of a Hawaiian tradition should in each case be determined by balancing respective interests and harm once it is established that application of the custom has continued in a particular area.  66 H. 1, 656 P.2d 745.

  "Hawaiian usage" clause may establish certain customary Hawaiian rights beyond those found in §7-1.  73 H. 578, 837 P.2d 1247.

  Common law rights ordinarily associated with tenancy do not limit customary rights existing under the laws of Hawaii.  79 H. 425, 903 P.2d 1246.

  Descendants of native Hawaiians who inhabited islands prior to 1778 who assert valid customary and traditional Hawaiian rights under this section entitled to protection regardless of their blood quantum.  79 H. 425, 903 P.2d 1246.

  Hawaii constitution and this section require county planning commission to "preserve and protect" reasonable exercise of customary or traditional native Hawaiian rights to the extent feasible when issuing special management area use permits.  79 H. 425, 903 P.2d 1246.

  If property is deemed "fully developed", i.e., lands zoned and used for residential purposes with existing dwellings, improvements, and infrastructure, it is always "inconsistent" to permit the practice of traditional and customary native Hawaiian rights on such property.  89 H. 177, 970 P.2d 485.

  To establish the existence of a traditional or customary native Hawaiian practice, there must be an adequate foundation in the record connecting the claimed right to a firmly rooted traditional or customary native Hawaiian practice.  89 H. 177, 970 P.2d 485.

  Where defendant failed to adduce sufficient evidence to support claim of the exercise of a constitutionally protected native Hawaiian right and knowingly entered landowner's property which was fenced in a manner to exclude others, trial court properly concluded that defendant was unlawfully on property in violation of §708-814(1).  89 H. 177, 970 P.2d 485.

 

Judicial precedents prior to adoption of common law by this statute (with cases applying these precedents).

  Delivery of seisin obsolete.  1 H. 17.  Deed reserving life estate valid.  4 H. 515, 517; 5 H. 484.  Rule in Shelley's case rejected.  8 H. 392; 12 H. 375, 389; 13 H. 196, 199; 19 H. 78.

  Seal not necessary to validity of instrument.  1 H. 23; 4 H. 459; 6 H. 633 (single justice).  Applied as rendering of no force common law distinction between action of covenant and of assumpsit.  40 H. 92.  Incontestability of sealed instrument for want of consideration raised but not decided.  29 H. 548.

  Widow may recover for death of husband.  2 H. 209; 1 U.S.D.C. Haw. 75, aff'd 114 F. 849.  Applied as allowing action by father for death of minor child.  16 H. 615, 628; 27 H. 671, 674; 31 H. 939; 37 H. 571.  But not as allowing action for death of adult child, 27 H. 626, or for injury to parent short of death, 41 H. 634.  Applied as rejecting rule of Baker v. Bolton (1 Camp. 493) that death of human being not an injury, so as to permit personal representative to sue for lost earnings under survival statute (§663-7).  45 H. 373, 369 P.2d 96.

  Rule that conveyance to two or more construed as joint tenancy, rejected.  5 H. 543; 8 H. 392, 396.  Precedent applied in case of adverse holding by two or more.  31 H. 661, reh'g denied 31 H. 796.

  Survival of cause of action governed by common law in absence of specific statute.  6 H. 556 (single justice); 34 H. 667.

  Grounds for annulment, held exclusively statutory.  8 H. 77.

  Estates tail and fees simple conditional rejected (without reliance on statutes prior to 1893).  12 H. 375, 391-4; 20 H. 372, 377; 21 H. 699, aff'd 242 U.S. 612; 23 H. 747, 757, aff'd 255 F. 732; 25 H. 561, 567.

  Word "heirs" unnecessary to conveyance of a fee simple.  13 H. 499; 23 H. 38, 44, aff'd 242 F. 446; 23 H. 298, 304; 46 H. 425, 429, 380 P.2d 762.

  Statute of uses is in force, the point having been settled as early as 1855.  16 H. 294, 303.

  Common law doctrine of merger of estates rejected.  16 H. 377, 388, overruled on another point 26 H. 405.

  Status of adopted child as "issue" in view of Hawaiian usage and precedents.  35 H. 104, aff'd 115 F.2d 956; 42 H. 640; 49 H. 273, 414 P.2d 925.

  Hawaiian usage in establishing seaward boundaries.  50 H. 314, 440 P.2d 76.

  Hawaiian usage mentioned is usage which predated Nov. 25, 1892.  52 H. 472, 479 P.2d 202.

 

 

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