HOME

TheInfoList




Civil law is a
legal system The contemporary national legal systems are generally based on one of four basic systems A system is a group of interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and infl ...
originating in
mainland Europe Mainland or continental Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly rega ...

mainland Europe
and adopted in much of the world. The civil law system is intellectualized within the framework of
Roman law Roman law is the law, legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables (c. 449 BC), to the ''Corpus Juris Civilis'' (AD 529) ordered by Eastern Roman emperor J ...
, and with core principles codified into a referable system, which serves as the primary source of law. The civil law system is often contrasted with the
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Black's Law Dictionary'' is the most-us ...
system, which originated in
medieval England England in the Middle Ages concerns the history of England The British Isles became inhabited more than 800,000 years ago, as the discovery of stone tools and footprints at Happisburgh in Norfolk has indicated.; "Earliest footprints outside ...
, whose intellectual framework historically came from uncodified judge-made
case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority to judge, adjudicate on, or determine claims or disputes—whether or not it is calle ...
, and gives
precedent A precedent is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case A legal case is in a general sense a dispute between opposing parties which may be resolved by a court A court is any person or institution, often as a government inst ...
ial authority to prior court decisions. Historically, a civil law is the group of legal ideas and systems ultimately derived from the ''
Corpus Juris Civilis The ''Corpus Juris'' (or ''Iuris'') ''Civilis'' ("Body of Civil Law") is the modern name for a collection of fundamental works in jurisprudence, issued from 529 to 534 by order of Justinian I Justinian I (; la, Flavius Petrus Sabbatius I ...
'', but heavily overlain by
Napoleonic Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader. He rose to prominence during the French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) refers to the period that began with the Estates General o ...
,
Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes * Germanic languages :* Proto-Germanic language, a reconstructed proto-language of ...
,
canonical Canonical may refer to: Science and technology * Canonical form In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geo ...
, feudal, and local practices, as well as doctrinal strains such as
natural law Natural law ( la, ius naturale, ''lex naturalis'') is a system of law based on a close observation of human nature Human nature is a concept that denotes the fundamental disposition A disposition is a quality of character, a habit A habit (or ...
, codification, and
legal positivism Legal positivism is a school of thought of analytical jurisprudence Analytical jurisprudence is a philosophical approach to law that draws on the resources of modern analytical philosophy Analytic philosophy is a branch and tradition of philosop ...
. Conceptually, civil law proceeds from abstractions, formulates general principles, and distinguishes substantive rules from procedural rules. It holds
case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority to judge, adjudicate on, or determine claims or disputes—whether or not it is calle ...
secondary and subordinate to
statutory law Statutory law or statute law is written law passed by a body of legislature. This is as opposed to Oral law, oral or customary law; or regulatory law promulgated by the Executive (government), executive or common law of the judiciary. Statutes may ...
. Civil law is often paired with the
inquisitorial system An inquisitorial system is a legal system in which the court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out th ...
, but the terms are not synonymous. There are key differences between a
statute A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) ...

statute
and a code. The most pronounced features of civil systems are their
legal codes A code of law, also called a law code or legal code, is a type of legislation that purports to exhaustively cover a complete system of laws or a particular area of law as it existed at the time the code was enacted, by a process of codification ...
, with concise and broadly applicable texts that typically avoid factually specific scenarios. The short articles in a civil law code deal in generalities and stand in contrast with ordinary statutes, which are often very long and very detailed.


Overview


Origin and features

Civil law is sometimes referred to as neo-Roman law, Romano-Germanic law or Continental law. The expression "civil law" is a translation of Latin ''jus civile'', or "citizens' law", which was the late imperial term for its legal system, as opposed to the laws governing conquered peoples (''
jus gentium The ''ius __NOTOC__ ''Ius'' or ''Jus'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Throu ...
''); hence, the Justinian Code's title ''
Corpus Juris Civilis The ''Corpus Juris'' (or ''Iuris'') ''Civilis'' ("Body of Civil Law") is the modern name for a collection of fundamental works in jurisprudence, issued from 529 to 534 by order of Justinian I Justinian I (; la, Flavius Petrus Sabbatius I ...
''. Civil law practitioners, however, traditionally refer to their system in a broad sense as ''
jus commune ''Jus commune'' or ''ius commune'' is Latin for "common law" in certain jurisdictions. It is often used by Civil law (legal system), civil law jurists to refer to those aspects of the civil law system's invariant legal principles, sometimes called ...
.'' The civil law system is the most widespread system of law in the world, in force in various forms in about 150 countries. It draws heavily from Roman law, arguably the most intricate known legal system before the modern era. In civil law legal systems where codes exist, the primary source of law is the
law code A code of law, also called a law code or legal code, is a type of legislation that purports to exhaustively cover a complete system of laws or a particular area of law as it existed at the time the code was enacted, by a process of codification. ...
, a systematic collection of interrelated articles, arranged by subject matter in some pre-specified order. Codes explain the principles of law, rights and entitlements, and how basic legal mechanisms work. The purpose of codification is to provide all citizens with manners and written collection of the laws which apply to them and which judges must follow. Law codes are laws enacted by a
legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country or city. They are often contrasted with the Executive (government), executive and Judiciary, ...
, even if they are in general much longer than other laws. Rather than a compendium of statutes or catalog of
case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority to judge, adjudicate on, or determine claims or disputes—whether or not it is calle ...
, the code sets out general principles as rules of law. Other major legal systems in the world include
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Black's Law Dictionary'' is the most-us ...
,
Islamic law Sharia (; ar, شريعة, sharīʿa ) is a religious law Religious law includes ethical and moral codes taught by religious traditions. Different religious systems hold sacred law in a greater or lesser degree of importance to their beli ...
,
Halakha ''Halakha'' (; he, הֲלָכָה, ), also transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script Script may refer to: Writing systems * Script, a distinctive writing system, based on a repertoire of specific ...
, and
canon law Canon law (from grc, κανών, , a 'straight measuring rod, ruler A ruler, sometimes called a rule or line gauge, is a device used in geometry and technical drawing, as well as the engineering and construction industries, to measure dis ...
. Unlike
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Black's Law Dictionary'' is the most-us ...
systems, civil law jurisdictions deal with case law apart from any
precedent A precedent is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case A legal case is in a general sense a dispute between opposing parties which may be resolved by a court A court is any person or institution, often as a government inst ...
value. Civil law courts generally decide cases using codal provisions on a case-by-case basis, without reference to other (even superior) judicial decisions. In actual practice, an increasing degree of precedent is creeping into civil law
jurisprudence Jurisprudence, or legal theory, is the theoretical study of the propriety of . Scholars of jurisprudence seek to explain the nature of law in its most general form and provide a deeper understanding of , , , and the proper application and rol ...
, and is generally seen in many nations' highest courts. While the typical
French-speaking French ( or ) is a Romance language The Romance languages (less commonly Latin languages, or Neo-Latin languages) are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin between the third and eighth centuries. They are a subgroup of t ...
supreme court A supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out the administration of just ...

supreme court
decision is short, concise and devoid of explanation or justification, in
Germanic Europe Germanic-speaking Europe refers to the area of Europe that today uses a Germanic languages, Germanic language. Over 200 million Europeans (some 30%) speak a Germanic language natively. At the same time 515 million speak a Germanic language native ...
, the supreme courts can and do tend to write more verbose opinions, supported by legal reasoning. A line of similar case decisions, while not precedent ''per se'', constitute ''
jurisprudence constante ' ( French for "stable jurisprudence", or literally, "constant jurisprudence") is a legal doctrine A legal doctrine is a framework, set of rules, procedural steps, or test, often established through precedent in the common law, through which judgme ...
''. While civil law jurisdictions place little reliance on court decisions, they tend to generate a phenomenal number of reported
legal opinion In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by it ...
s. However, this tends to be uncontrolled, since there is no statutory requirement that any case be reported or published in a
law report en-GB, Law reports, label=none or en-US, reporters, label=none are series of books that contain judicial opinions from a selection of case law Case law, also used interchangeably with common law In law, common law (also known as judicial prec ...
, except for the councils of state and constitutional courts. Except for the highest courts, all publication of legal opinions are unofficial or commercial.


Subcategories

Civil law systems can be divided into: * those where Roman law in some form is still living law but there has been no attempt to create a
civil code A civil code is a codification of private law relating to property law, property, family law, family, and law of obligations, obligations. A jurisdiction that has a civil code generally also has a code of civil procedure. In some jurisdictions w ...
:
Andorra Andorra (, ; ), officially the Principality of Andorra ( ca, Principat d'Andorra), is a sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French ( ...

Andorra
and
San Marino San Marino (, ), officially the Republic of San Marino ( it, Repubblica di San Marino; ), also known as the Most Serene Republic of San Marino ( it, Serenissima Repubblica di San Marino, links=no), is a small country (and a European microstate) ...

San Marino
* those with uncodified mixed systems in which civil law is an academic source of authority but common law is also influential: Scotland and the
Roman-Dutch law Roman-Dutch law ( Dutch: ''Rooms-Hollands recht'', Afrikaans File:WIKITONGUES- Alaric speaking Afrikaans.webm, Alaric speaking Afrikaans. Afrikaans (, ) is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language spoken in South Africa, Namibia and, ...
countries (
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the Southern Africa, southernmost country in Africa. With over Demographics of South Africa, 60 million people, it is the world's List of countries by population, 23rd-most ...

South Africa
,
Zimbabwe Zimbabwe (), officially the Republic of Zimbabwe, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an individ ...

Zimbabwe
,
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකාව, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon, and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is ...

Sri Lanka
and
Guyana Guyana ( or ), officially the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, is a country on the northern mainland of South America South America is a entirely in the and mostly in the , with a relatively small portion in the . It can also be ...

Guyana
) * those with codified mixed systems in which civil law is the background law but has its public law heavily influenced by common law:
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico (; abbreviated PR; tnq, Boriken, ''Borinquen''), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ( es, link=yes, Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, lit=Free Associated State of Puerto Rico) is a Caribbean island and Unincorporated ...

Puerto Rico
,
Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, Republika sa Pilipinas * cbk, República de Filipinas * hil, Republ ...

Philippines
,
Quebec ) , image_shield=Armoiries du Québec.svg , image_flag=Flag of Quebec.svg , coordinates= , AdmittanceDate=July 1, 1867 , AdmittanceOrder=1st, with New Brunswick ("Hope restored") , image_map = New Brunswick in Canada 2.svg , ...

Quebec
and
Louisiana Louisiana (Standard French Standard French (in French: ''le français standard'', ''le français normé'', ''le français neutre'' eutral Frenchor ''le français international'' nternational French is an unofficial term for a standard ...

Louisiana
* the Scandinavian legal systems, which are of a hybrid character since their background law is a mix of civil law and Scandinavian customary law and they have been partially codified. Likewise, the laws of the
Channel Islands The Channel Islands ( nrf, Îles d'la Manche; french: îles Anglo-Normandes or ''îles de la Manche'') are an archipelago in the English Channel, off the French coast of Normandy. They include two Crown Dependencies: the Jersey, Bailiwick of ...

Channel Islands
(
Jersey Jersey ( , ; nrf, label=Jèrriais, Jèrri ), officially the Bailiwick of Jersey (french: Bailliage de Jersey, links=no; Jèrriais: ''Bailliage dé Jèrri''), is an island and self-governing Crown dependencies, Crown Dependency near the coas ...

Jersey
,
Guernsey Guernsey (; Guernésiais Guernésiais, also known as ''Dgèrnésiais'', Guernsey French, and Guernsey Norman French, is the variety of the Norman language Norman or Norman French (', french: Normand, Guernésiais: ''Normand'', Jèrriais: ...

Guernsey
,
Alderney Alderney (; french: Aurigny ; Auregnais: ''Aoeur'gny'') is the northernmost of the inhabited Channel Islands. It is part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, a British Crown Dependencies, Crown dependency. It is long and wide. The island's area ...

Alderney
,
Sark Sark (french: link=no, Sercq, ; : ' or ') is a part of the in the southwestern , off the coast of , . It is a royal , which forms part of the , with its own set of laws based on and its own parliament. It has a population of about 500. Sark ...

Sark
) mix Norman customary law and French civil law. * those with comprehensive codes that exceed a single civil code, such as France, Germany, Greece, Italy,
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...
, Mexico, Russia, Spain: it is this last category that is normally regarded as typical of civil law systems, and is discussed in the rest of this article.


Prominent civil codes

A prominent example of a civil law code is the
Napoleonic Code The Napoleonic Code (, lit. "Code Napoleon"), officially the Civil Code of the French (; simply referred to as ) is the French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), of ...
(1804), named after French emperor
Napoleon Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader. He rose to prominence during the French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) refers to the period that began with the Estates General o ...

Napoleon
. The Napoleonic code comprises three components: * the law of persons *
property law Property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property may have the right to , alter, , , ...
, and * commercial law. Another prominent civil code is the
German Civil Code German(s) may refer to: * Germany Germany (german: Deutschland, ), officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in . It is the in Europe after , and the most populous . Germany is situated between the and seas to the north, and the ...
(''Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch'' or BGB), which went into effect in the German empire in 1900. The German Civil Code is highly influential, inspiring the civil codes in countries such as Japan, South Korea and
Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federalism, Federal semi-direct democracy under an assembly-independent Directorial system, directorial republic , leader_title1 = Fe ...
(1907). It is divided into five parts: # The General Part, covering definitions and concepts, such as personal rights and legal personality. # Obligations, including concepts of debt, sale and contract; # Things (
property law Property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property may have the right to , alter, , , ...
), including immovable and movable property; # Domestic relations (
family law Family law (also called matrimonial law or the ''law of domestic relations'') is an area of the that deals with matters and . Overview Subjects that commonly fall under a nation's body of family law include: * , s, and s: ** Entry into legall ...
); and # Succession (estate law).


History

Civil law takes as its major inspiration classical
Roman law Roman law is the law, legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables (c. 449 BC), to the ''Corpus Juris Civilis'' (AD 529) ordered by Eastern Roman emperor J ...
(''c''. AD 1–250), and in particular
Justinian Justinian I (; la, Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus; grc-gre, Ἰουστινιανός ; 48214 November 565), also known as Justinian the Great, was the Byzantine emperor This is a list of the Byzantine emperors from the foundation o ...
law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its bounda ...
(6th century AD), and further expanded and developed in the late
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
under the influence of
canon law Canon law (from grc, κανών, , a 'straight measuring rod, ruler A ruler, sometimes called a rule or line gauge, is a device used in geometry and technical drawing, as well as the engineering and construction industries, to measure dis ...
. The Justinian Code's doctrines provided a sophisticated model for
contract A contract is a legally binding agreement that defines and governs the rights and duties between or among its parties Image:'Hip, Hip, Hurrah! Artist Festival at Skagen', by Peder Severin Krøyer (1888) Demisted with DXO PhotoLab Clearview ...

contract
s, rules of procedure,
family law Family law (also called matrimonial law or the ''law of domestic relations'') is an area of the that deals with matters and . Overview Subjects that commonly fall under a nation's body of family law include: * , s, and s: ** Entry into legall ...
, wills, and a strong
monarchical A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch, is head of state for life or until abdication. The legitimacy (political)#monarchy, political legitimacy and authority of the monarch may vary from restricted and large ...
constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...

constitution
al system. Roman law was received differently in different countries. In some it went into force wholesale by legislative act, i.e., it became
positive law Positive laws ( la, links=no, ius positum) are human-made laws that oblige or specify an action. Positive law also describes the establishment of specific rights for an individual or group. Etymologically, the name derives from the verb ''to posit ...
, whereas in others it was diffused into society by increasingly influential legal experts and scholars. Roman law continued without interruption in the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
until its final fall in the 15th century. However, given the multiple incursions and occupations by Western European powers in the late medieval period, its laws became widely implemented in the West. It was first received in the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
partly because it was considered imperial law, and it spread in Europe mainly because its students were the only trained lawyers. It became the basis of
Scots law Scots law () is the legal system The contemporary national legal systems are generally based on one of four basic systems A system is a group of interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified ...
, though partly rivaled by received feudal
Norman lawNorman law refers to the customary law of the Duchy of Normandy The Duchy of Normandy grew out of the 911 Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte between King Charles III of West Francia and the Viking leader Rollo. The duchy was named for its inhabitants ...
. In England, it was taught academically at the universities of
Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2017, its population was estimated at 152,450. It is northwest of London, southeast of Birmingham, and northeast of Bristol. The city is home to the Unive ...
and
Cambridge Cambridge ( ) is a university city and the county town In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' ...
, but underlay only
probate Probate is the judicial process whereby a will is "proved" in a court of law and accepted as a valid public document that is the true last testament of the deceased, or whereby the estate is settled according to the laws of intestacy Intest ...
and
matrimonial in Stockholm Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a culturally recognised union between people, called spouses, that establishes rights and obligations between them, as well as between them and their children, and between them ...

matrimonial
law insofar as both were inherited from canon law, and
maritime law Admiralty law or maritime law is a body of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by ...
, adapted from ''
lex mercatoria ''Lex mercatoria'' (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power ...
'' through the
Bordeaux Bordeaux ( , ; Gascon language, Gascon oc, Bordèu ) is a port city on the river Garonne in the Gironde Departments of France, department in Southwestern France. The municipality (Communes of France, commune) of Bordeaux proper has a popula ...

Bordeaux
trade. Consequently, neither of the two waves of Roman influence completely dominated in Europe. Roman law was a secondary source that was applied only when local customs and laws were found lacking on a certain subject. However, after a time, even local law came to be interpreted and evaluated primarily on the basis of Roman law, since it was a common European legal tradition of sorts, and thereby in turn influenced the main source of law. Eventually, the work of civilian
glossator The scholars of the 11th- and 12th-century legal schools in Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a Northern Italy, continental part, delimited by the Al ...
s and commentators led to the development of a common body of law and writing about law, a common legal language, and a common method of teaching and scholarship, all termed the ''
jus commune ''Jus commune'' or ''ius commune'' is Latin for "common law" in certain jurisdictions. It is often used by Civil law (legal system), civil law jurists to refer to those aspects of the civil law system's invariant legal principles, sometimes called ...
'', or law common to Europe, which consolidated canon law and Roman law, and to some extent,
feudal law Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discov ...
.


Codification

An important common characteristic of civil law, aside from its origins in Roman law, is the comprehensive
codification Codification may refer to: *Codification (law), the process of preparing and enacting a legal code *Codification (linguistics), the process of selecting, developing and prescribing a model for standard language usage *Accounting Standards Codificati ...
of received Roman law, i.e., its inclusion in civil codes. The earliest
codification Codification may refer to: *Codification (law), the process of preparing and enacting a legal code *Codification (linguistics), the process of selecting, developing and prescribing a model for standard language usage *Accounting Standards Codificati ...
known is the
Code of Hammurabi The Code of Hammurabi is a Babylonian legal text composed 1755–1750 BC. It is the longest, best-organised, and best-preserved legal text from the ancient Near East. It is written in the Old Babylonian dialect of Akkadian, purportedly by Ham ...

Code of Hammurabi
, written in ancient
Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Babil'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bavel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babili'' *Kassite The Kassites ...

Babylon
during the 18th century BC. However, this, and many of the codes that followed, were mainly lists of civil and criminal wrongs and their punishments. The codification typical of modern civilian systems did not first appear until the Justinian Code. Germanic codes appeared over the 6th and 7th centuries to clearly delineate the law in force for Germanic privileged classes versus their Roman subjects and regulate those laws according to folk-right. Under
feudal Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a way of structuring society ...
law, a number of private
custumal A custumal is a England in the Middle Ages, medieval English document that stipulates the economic, political, and social customs of a Manorialism, manor or town. It is common for it to include an inventory of customs, regular agricultural, trading ...
s were compiled, first under the Norman empire (''Très ancien coutumier'', 1200–1245), then elsewhere, to record the
manorial Manorialism, also known as the manor system or manorial system, was the method of land ownership (or "tenure Tenure is a category of academic appointment existing in some countries. A tenured post is an indefinite academic appointment that ...
—and later regional—customs, court decisions, and the legal principles underpinning them. Custumals were commissioned by lords who presided as lay judges over manorial courts in order to inform themselves about the court process. The use of custumals from influential towns soon became commonplace over large areas. In keeping with this, certain monarchs consolidated their kingdoms by attempting to compile custumals that would serve as the law of the land for their realms, as when
Charles VII of France Charles VII (22 February 1403 – 22 July 1461), called the Victorious (french: le Victorieux) or the Well-Served (french: le Bien-Servi), was List of French monarchs, King of France from 1422 to his death in 1461. In the midst of the Hundred Yea ...

Charles VII of France
in 1454 commissioned an official custumal of Crown law. Two prominent examples include the ''Coutume de Paris'' (written 1510; revised 1580), which served as the basis for the Napoleonic Code, and the ''
Sachsenspiegel The (; gml, Sassen Speyghel; modern nds, Sassenspegel; all literally "Saxon Mirror") is the most important law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of ru ...

Sachsenspiegel
'' (c. 1220) of the
bishopric In Ecclesiastical polity, church governance, a diocese or bishopric is the ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction of a bishop. History In the later organization of the Roman Empire, the increasingly subdivided Roman province, prov ...
s of
Magdeburg Magdeburg (; nds, label=Low Saxon Low Saxon or Lower Saxon may refer to: Geography *Lower Saxony Lower Saxony (german: Niedersachsen ; nds, Neddersassen; stq, Läichsaksen) is a German state (''Land'') situated in Northern Germany, nor ...

Magdeburg
and
Halberstadt Halberstadt is a town A town is a . Towns are generally larger than s and smaller than , though the criteria to distinguish between them vary considerably in different parts of the world. Origin and use The word "town" shares an origin w ...
which was used in northern Germany, Poland, and the
Low Countries The term Low Countries, also known as the Low Lands ( nl, de Lage Landen, french: les Pays-Bas) and historically called the Netherlands ( nl, de Nederlanden), Flanders, or Belgica, refers to a coastal lowland region in Northwestern Europe ...
. The concept of codification was further developed during the 17th and 18th centuries AD, as an expression of both
natural law Natural law ( la, ius naturale, ''lex naturalis'') is a system of law based on a close observation of human nature Human nature is a concept that denotes the fundamental disposition A disposition is a quality of character, a habit A habit (or ...
and the ideas of the
Enlightenment Enlightenment, enlighten or enlightened may refer to: Age of Enlightenment * Age of Enlightenment, period in Western intellectual history from the late 17th to late 18th century, centered in France but also encompassing: ** Midlands Enlightenment ...
. The political ideals of that era was expressed by the concepts of
democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to cho ...

democracy
, protection of
property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property may have the right to consume, alter, share, r ...
and the
rule of law The rule of law is defined in the ''Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal of the , published by (OUP). It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a compreh ...

rule of law
. Those ideals required certainty of law, recorded, uniform law. So, the mix of Roman law and customary and local law gave way to law codification. Also, the notion of a
nation-state A nation state is a political unit where the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newsp ...
implied recorded
law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its bounda ...
that would be applicable to that state. There was also a reaction to law codification. The proponents of codification regarded it as conducive to certainty, unity and systematic recording of the law; whereas its opponents claimed that codification would result in the
ossification Ossification (or osteogenesis) in bone remodeling is the process of laying down new bone material by Cell (biology), cells named osteoblasts. It is synonymous with bone tissue formation. There are two processes resulting in the formation of no ...
of the law. In the end, despite whatever resistance to codification, the codification of Continental European private laws moved forward. Codifications were completed by Denmark (1687), Sweden (1734), Prussia (1794), France (1804), and
Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich, links=no, ), is a landlocked Eastern Alps, East Alpine country in the southern part of Central Europe. It is composed of nine States o ...
(1811). The French codes were imported into areas conquered by Napoleon and later adopted with modifications in Poland (
Duchy of Warsaw The Duchy of Warsaw ( pl, Księstwo Warszawskie, french: Duché de Varsovie, german: Herzogtum Warschau), also known as Napoleonic Poland, was a Poland, Polish client state of the First French Empire, French Empire established by Napoleon Bonapar ...
/
Congress Poland Congress Poland or Russian Poland, formally known as the Kingdom of Poland, was a polity created in 1815 by the Congress of Vienna as a semi-autonomous Poland, Polish State (polity), state and successor to Napoleon's Duchy of Warsaw. It was est ...
; Kodeks cywilny 1806/1825), Louisiana (1807), Canton of Vaud (Switzerland; 1819), the
Netherlands ) , national_anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = EU-Netherlands.svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = BES islands location map.svg , map_caption2 = , image_map3 ...
(1838),
Serbia Serbia (, ; Serbian Serbian may refer to: * someone or something related to Serbia, a country in Southeastern Europe * someone or something related to the Serbs, a South Slavic people * in both meanings, depending on the context, it may ref ...
(1844), Italy and Romania (1865), Portugal (1867) and Spain (1888).
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inh ...
(1900), and
Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federalism, Federal semi-direct democracy under an assembly-independent Directorial system, directorial republic , leader_title1 = Fe ...
(1912) adopted their own codifications. These codifications were in turn imported into colonies at one time or another by most of these countries. The Swiss version was adopted in Brazil (1916) and Turkey (1926). In theory, codes conceptualized in the civil law system should go beyond the compilation of discrete statutes, and instead state the law in a coherent, and comprehensive piece of legislation, sometimes introducing major reforms or starting anew. In this regard, civil law codes are more similar to the
Restatements of the Law In American jurisprudence, the ''Restatements of the Law'' are a set of treatises on legal subjects that seek to inform judges and lawyers about general principles of common law. There are now four series of ''Restatements'', all published by the A ...
, the
Uniform Commercial Code The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), first published in 1952, is one of a number of s that have been established as law with the goal of harmonizing the laws of sales and other commercial transactions across the United States through by all 50 , th ...

Uniform Commercial Code
(which drew from European inspirations), and the
Model Penal CodeThe Model Penal Code (MPC) is a model act designed to stimulate and assist U.S. state legislatures to update and standardize the penal law of the United States of America The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United Stat ...
in the United States. In the United States,
U.S. state In the , a state is a , of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a , each state holds al jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory where it shares its with the . Due to this shared sovereignty, are both of t ...
s began codification with New York's 1850 Field Code (laying down civil procedure rules and inspired by European and Louisiana codes). Other examples include California's
code In communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', mean ...
s (1872), and the federal
revised statutesRevise or revised may refer to: Bibles * Revised Version of the King James Bible ** New Revised Standard Version of the King James Bible Government and law * Revised Penal Code of the Philippines * Revised Statutes of the United States Other uses ...
(1874) and the current
United States Code The Code of Laws of the United States of America (variously abbreviated to Code of Laws of the United States, United States Code, U.S. Code, U.S.C., or USC) is the official compilation and codification Codification may refer to: *Codification ( ...
(1926), which are closer to compilations of statute than to systematic expositions of law akin to civil law codes. For the legal system of Japan, beginning in the
Meiji Era The is an era An era is a span of time defined for the purposes of chronology or historiography, as in the regnal eras in the history of a given monarchy, a calendar era used for a given calendar, or the geological eras defined for the hi ...
, European legal systems—especially the civil law of Germany and France—were the primary models for emulation. In China, the German Civil Code was introduced in the later years of the Qing dynasty, emulating Japan. In addition, it formed the basis of the law of the Republic of China (1912–49), Republic of China, which remains in force in Taiwan. Furthermore, Korea, Taiwan, and Manchuria, former Japanese colonies, have been strongly influenced by the Japanese legal system. Some authors consider civil law the foundation for socialist law used in Communism, communist countries, which in this view would basically be civil law with the addition of Marxism-Leninism, Marxist-Leninist ideals. Even if this is so, civil law was generally the legal system in place before the rise of socialist law, and some Eastern European countries reverted to the pre-socialist civil law following the fall of socialism, while others continued using a socialist legal systems.


Differentiation from other major legal systems

The table below contains essential disparities (and in some cases similarities) between the world's four major legal systems.Neubauer, David W., and Stephen S. Meinhold.'' Judicial Process: Law, Courts, and Politics in the United States.'' Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth, 2007, p. 28. Civil law is primarily contrasted with
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Black's Law Dictionary'' is the most-us ...
, which is the legal system developed first in England, and later among English-speaking world, English-speaking peoples of the world. Despite their differences, the two systems are quite similar from a historical point of view. Both evolved in much the same way, though at different paces. The Roman law underlying civil law developed mainly from customary law that was refined with case law and legislation. Canon law further refined court procedure. Similarly, English law developed from Anglo-Saxon customary law, Danelaw and
Norman lawNorman law refers to the customary law of the Duchy of Normandy The Duchy of Normandy grew out of the 911 Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte between King Charles III of West Francia and the Viking leader Rollo. The duchy was named for its inhabitants ...
, further refined by case law and legislation. The differences are * Roman law had crystallized many of its principles and mechanisms in the form of the Justinian Code, which drew from case law, scholarly commentary, and senatorial statutes * Civilian case law has persuasive authority, not binding authority as under common law Codification (law), Codification, however, is by no means a defining characteristic of a civil law system. For example, the statutes that govern the civil law systems of Sweden and other Nordic countries and the Roman-Dutch countries are not grouped into larger, expansive codes like those in French and German law.


Subgroups

The term ''civil law'' comes from English legal scholarship and is used in English-speaking countries to lump together all legal systems of the ''jus commune'' tradition. However, comparative law, legal comparativists and economists promoting the legal origins theory prefer to subdivide civil law jurisdictions into four distinct groups: * Napoleonic: France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Chile, Belgium, Luxembourg, Portugal, Brazil, Mexico, other CPLP countries, Macau, former Portuguese India, Portuguese territories in India (Goa, Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli), Malta, Romania, and most of the Arab world (e.g. Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, etc.) when Islamic law is not used. Former colonies include Quebec (Canada) and Louisiana (U.S.). ** Chilean Civil Code, The Chilean Code is an original work of jurist and legislator Andrés Bello. Traditionally, the Napoleonic Code has been considered the main source of inspiration for the Chilean Code. However, this is true only with regard to the law of obligations and the law of things (except for the principle of abstraction), while it is not true at all in the matters of family and successions. This code was integrally adopted by Ecuador, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Colombia, Panama and Venezuela (although only for one year). According to other Latin American experts of its time, like Augusto Teixeira de Freitas (author of the "Esboço de um Código Civil para o Brasil") or Dalmacio Vélez Sársfield (main author of the Argentinian Civil Code), it is the most important legal accomplishments of Latin America. ** Cameroon, a former colony of both France and United Kingdom, is bi-juridical/mixed * Germanistic: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Latvia, Estonia, Roman Dutch law, Roman-Dutch, Czech Republic, Russia, Lithuania, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Ukraine, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand ** South Africa, a former colony of the Netherlands and later the United Kingdom, was heavily influenced by English colonists and therefore is bi-juridical/mixed. * Nordic: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden * Law of the People's Republic of China, Chinese (except Hong Kong and Macau) is a mixture of civil law and socialist law. Presently, Chinese laws absorb some features of common law system, especially those related to commercial and international transactions. Hong Kong, although part of China, uses common law. The Basic Law of Hong Kong ensures the use and status of common law in Hong Kong. Macau continues to have a Portuguese legal system of civil law. However, some of these legal systems are often and more correctly said to be of hybrid nature: Napoleonic to Germanistic influence: The Italian civil code of 1942 replaced the original one of 1865, introducing German elements as a result of its World War II Axis Powers, Axis alliance. This approach has been imitated by other countries, including Portugal (1966), the Netherlands (1992), Brazil (2002) and Argentina (2014). Most of them have innovations introduced by the Italian legislation, including the unification of the civil code, civil and Commercial code (law), commercial codes. Germanistic to Napoleonic influence: The Swiss civil code is considered mainly influenced by the German civil code and partly influenced by the French civil code. The civil code of the Republic of Turkey is a slightly modified version of the Swiss code, adopted in 1926 during Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's presidency as part of the government's progressive reforms and secularization. Some systems of civil law do not fit neatly into this typology, however. Law of Poland, Polish law developed as a mixture of French and German civil law in the 19th century. After the reunification of Poland in 1918, five legal systems (French Napoleonic Code from the
Duchy of Warsaw The Duchy of Warsaw ( pl, Księstwo Warszawskie, french: Duché de Varsovie, german: Herzogtum Warschau), also known as Napoleonic Poland, was a Poland, Polish client state of the First French Empire, French Empire established by Napoleon Bonapar ...
, Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, German BGB from Western Poland, Austrian ABGB from Southern Poland, Russian law from Eastern Poland, and Hungarian law from Spisz and Orava (region), Orawa) were merged into one. Similarly, law of the Netherlands, Dutch law, while originally codified in the Napoleonic tradition, has been heavily altered under influence from the Dutch native tradition of
Roman-Dutch law Roman-Dutch law ( Dutch: ''Rooms-Hollands recht'', Afrikaans File:WIKITONGUES- Alaric speaking Afrikaans.webm, Alaric speaking Afrikaans. Afrikaans (, ) is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language spoken in South Africa, Namibia and, ...
(still in effect in its former colonies). Scotland's Scots law, civil law tradition borrowed heavily from Roman-Dutch law. Swiss law is categorized as Germanistic, but it has been heavily influenced by the Napoleonic tradition, with some indigenous elements added in as well. Louisiana law, Louisiana private law is primarily a Napoleonic system.
Louisiana Louisiana (Standard French Standard French (in French: ''le français standard'', ''le français normé'', ''le français neutre'' eutral Frenchor ''le français international'' nternational French is an unofficial term for a standard ...

Louisiana
is the only
U.S. state In the , a state is a , of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a , each state holds al jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory where it shares its with the . Due to this shared sovereignty, are both of t ...
whose private civil law is based heavily on the Law of France, French and Law of Spain, Spanish codes, as opposed to English
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Black's Law Dictionary'' is the most-us ...
. In Louisiana, private law was codified into the Louisiana Civil Code. Current Louisiana law has converged considerably with American law, especially in its public law, judicial system, and adoption of the
Uniform Commercial Code The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), first published in 1952, is one of a number of s that have been established as law with the goal of harmonizing the laws of sales and other commercial transactions across the United States through by all 50 , th ...

Uniform Commercial Code
(except for Article 2) and certain legal devices of American common law. In fact, any innovation, whether private or public, has been decidedly common law in origin.
Quebec ) , image_shield=Armoiries du Québec.svg , image_flag=Flag of Quebec.svg , coordinates= , AdmittanceDate=July 1, 1867 , AdmittanceOrder=1st, with New Brunswick ("Hope restored") , image_map = New Brunswick in Canada 2.svg , ...

Quebec
law, whose private law is also of French civil origin, has developed along the same lines, adapting in the same way as Louisiana to the public law and judicial system of Canadian law, Canadian common law. By contrast, Quebec private law has innovated mainly from civil sources. To a lesser extent, other states formerly part of the Spanish Empire, such as Texas and California, have also retained aspects of Spanish civil law into their legal system, for example community property. The Law of Puerto Rico, legal system of Puerto Rico exhibits similarities to that of Louisiana: a civil code whose interpretations rely on both the civil and common law systems. Because Civil Code of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico's Civil Code is based on the Spanish Civil Code of 1889, available jurisprudence has tended to rely on common law innovations due to the code's age and in many cases, obsolete nature. Several Islamic countries have civil law systems that contain elements of
Islamic law Sharia (; ar, شريعة, sharīʿa ) is a religious law Religious law includes ethical and moral codes taught by religious traditions. Different religious systems hold sacred law in a greater or lesser degree of importance to their beli ...
. As an example, the Egyptian Civil Code of 1810 that developed in the early 19th century—which remains in force in Egypt is the basis for the civil law in many countries of the Arab world where the civil law is used— is based on the Napoleonic Code, but its primary author Abd El-Razzak El-Sanhuri attempted to integrate principles and features of Islamic law in deference to the unique circumstances of Egyptian society. Japanese Civil Code is considered a mixture drawing roughly 60% from the German civil code, roughly 30% from the French civil code, 8% from Japanese customary law, and 2% from English law.和仁陽「岡松参太郎 – 法比較と学理との未完の綜合 – 」『法学教室』No.183 p. 79 Regarding the latter, the code borrows the doctrine of ultra vires and the precedent of Hadley v Baxendale from English common law system.


See also

* Civil law notary * International Roman Law Moot Court * List of national legal systems * Rule according to higher law * Tort


References


Bibliography

* Glendon, Mary Ann, Paolo G. Carozza, & Colin B. Picker. ''Comparative Legal Traditions in a Nutshell'', 4th edn. West Academic Publishing, 2015. * Glendon, Mary Ann, Paolo G. Carozza, & Colin B. Picker. ''Comparative Legal Traditions: Text, Materials and Cases on Western Law'', 4th edn. West Academic Publishing, 2014. * Glenn, H. Patrick. ''Legal Traditions of the World'', 5th edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014 (1st edn 2000). * Hamza, G. "Origine e sviluppo degli ordinamenti giusprivatistici moderni in base alla tradizione del diritto romano", Andavira Editora, Santiago de Compostela, 2013. * Kischel, Uwe. ''Comparative Law''. Trans. Andrew Hammel. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019. * * MacQueen, Hector L.
Scots Law and the Road to the New Ius Commune
" ''Electronic Journal of Comparative Law'' 4, no. 4 (December 2000). * Moreno Navarrete, M. A
''The Concept of Civil Law. Historical Dimension''.
Revista de Derecho Actual, vol. III, 2017. * John Henry Merryman & Rogelio Pérez-Perdomo. ''The Civil Law Tradition: An Introduction to the Legal Systems of Europe and Latin America'', 4th edn. Stanford University Press, 2018. * Moustaira, Elina N. ''Comparative Law: University Courses (in Greek)'', Ant. N. Sakkoulas Publishers, Athens, 2004, *


External links


A collection of Roman Law resources maintained by professor Ernest Metzger

''The Roman Law Library'' by Professor Yves Lassard and Alexandr Koptev

A Primer on the Civil Law System
from the Federal Judicial Center
Brasil Law Articles in English

A Civil Law to Common Law Dictionary
by N. Stephan Kinsella, ''Louisiana Law Review'' (1994)
Brehon Law (King Ollamh Fodhla)

''The Concept of Civil Law. Historical Dimension''.
Moreno Navarrete, Miguel Ángel {{DEFAULTSORT:Civil Law (Legal System) Civil law (legal system), de:Rechtskreis#Kontinentaleuropäischer Rechtskreis ka:კონტინენტური ევროპის სამართალი