List of Country Legal Systems - Civil Law

Civil Law

Civil law is the most widespread system of law around the world. It is also sometimes known as Continental European law. The central source of law that is recognized as authoritative is codifications in a constitution or statute passed by legislature, to amend a code.

While the concept of codification dates back to the Code of Hammurabi in Babylon ca. 1790 BC, civil law systems mainly derive from the Roman Empire and, more particularly, the Corpus Juris Civilis issued by the Emperor Justinian ca. AD 529. This was an extensive reform of the law in the Byzantine Empire, bringing it together into codified documents. Civil law was also partly influenced by religious laws such as Canon law and Islamic law. Civil law today, in theory, is interpreted rather than developed or made by judges. Only legislative enactments (rather than legal precedents, as in common law) are considered legally binding.

Scholars of comparative law and economists promoting the legal origins theory usually subdivide civil law into four distinct groups:

  • French civil law: in France, the Benelux countries, Italy, Romania, Spain and former colonies of those countries;
  • German civil law: in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Estonia, Latvia, former Yugoslav republics, Greece, Portugal and its former colonies, Turkey, Japan, South Korea and the Republic of China;
  • Scandinavian civil law: in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. As historically integrated in the Scandinavian cultural sphere, Finland and Iceland also inherited the system.
  • Chinese law: a mixture of civil law and socialist law in use in the People's Republic of China.

A comprehensive list of countries that base their legal system on a codified civil law follows:

Country Description
Albania The Civil Code of the Republic of Albania, 1991
Angola Based on Portuguese civil law
Argentina The Spanish legal tradition had a great influence on the Civil Code of Argentina, basically a work of the Argentine jurist Dalmacio Vélez Sársfield, who dedicated five years of his life on this task. The Civil Code came into effect on 1 January 1871. Beyond the influence of the Spanish legal tradition, the Argentinian Civil Code was also inspired by the Draft of the Brazilian Civil Code, the Draft of the Spanish Civil Code of 1851, the Napoleonic code and the Chilean Civil Code. The sources of this Civil Code also include various theoretical legal works, mainly of the great French jurists of the 19th century. It was the first Civil Law that consciously adopted as its cornerstone the distinction between i. rights from obligations and ii. real property rights, thus distancing itself from the French model.

The Argentinian Civil Code was also in effect in Paraguay, as per a Paraguayan law of 1880, until the new Civil Code went in force in 1987.

During the second half of the 20th century, the German legal theory became increasingly influential in Argentina.

Andorra Courts apply the customary laws of Andorra, supplemented with Roman law and customary Catalan law.
Armenia Based on German, French, Russian and traditional Armenian law
Aruba Based on Dutch civil law
Austria The Allgemeines bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (ABGB) of 1811
Azerbaijan
Belarus
Belgium The Napoleonic Code is still in use, although it is heavily modified (especially concerning family law)
Benin
Bolivia Influenced by the Napoleonic Code
Bosnia and Herzegovina Influenced by Austrian law. The Swiss civil law (Zivilgesetzbuch) was a model for the Law on Obligations of 1978.
Brazil Based on Portuguese civil law
Bulgaria Civil Law system influenced by Germanic and Roman law systems
Burkina Faso
Burundi
Chad
People's Republic of China civil law system; based on native customs and practices with Soviet and German influence
Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo Based on Belgian civil law
Cote d'Ivoire
Cambodia
Cape Verde Based on Portuguese civil law
Central African Republic
Chile The Spanish legal tradition exercised an especially great influence on the civil code of Chile. On its turn, the Chilean civil code influenced to a large degree the drafting of the civil codes of other Latin-American states. For instance, the codes of Ecuador (1861) and Colombia (1873) constituted faithful reproductions of the Chilean code, but for very few exceptions. The compiler of the Civil Code of Chile, Venezuelan Andrés Bello, worked for its completion for almost 30 years, using elements, of the Spanish law on the one hand, and of other Western laws, especially of the French one, on the other. Indeed, it is noted that he consulted and used all of the codes that had been issued till then, starting from the era of Justinian.

The Civil Code came into effect on 1 January 1857. Its technique is regarded as perfect; it is distinguished for the clarity, logic and cohesiveness of its provisions. As mentioned by Arminjon, Nolde, and Wolff ('Traite de droit comparé', Paris, 1950–1952) Andrés Bello may be regarded as one of the great legislators of mankind. The influence of the Napoleonic code is great; it is observed however that e.g. in many provisions of property law, the solutions of the French code civil were put aside in favor of pure Roman law.

Colombia Civil code introduced in 1873. Nearly faithful reproduction of the Chilean civil code
Costa Rica First Civil Code (a part of the General Code or Carrillo Code) came into effect in 1841; its text was inspired by the South Peruvian Civil Code of Marshal Andres de Santa Cruz. The present Civil Code is into effect since 1 January 1888, and reveals the influenced by the Napoleonic Code and the Spanish Civil Code of 1889 (from its 1851 draft version).
Croatia Influenced by Austrian and Hungarian law. The Law on Obligations of 2005.
Cuba Influenced by Spanish and American law with large elements of Communist legal theory.
Cyprus Mixed system combining Common Law (inherited from British colonisation) and Civil Law.
Czech Republic Descended from the Civil Code of the Austrian Empire (1811), influenced by German (1939–45) and Soviet (1947/68-89) legal codes during occupation periods, substantially reformed to remove Soviet influence and elements of socialist law after the Velvet Revolution (1989).
Denmark Scandinavian-German civil law
Dominican Republic Based by the Napoleonic Code
Ecuador Civil code introduced in 1861. Nearly faithful reproduction of the Chilean civil code
El Salvador
Estonia Largely influenced by German civil law.
Finland civil law system based on Swedish law
France Based on the Napoleonic code (code civil of 1804)
Egypt
Equatorial Guinea
Ethiopia
Gabon
Guinea based on French civil law system, customary law, and decree
Guinea-Bissau Based on Portuguese civil law
Georgia
Germany The Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch of 1900 ("BGB"). The BGB is influenced both by Roman and German law traditions.
Greece The Greek civil code of 1946, highly influenced by the German civil code of 1900 (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch); the Greek civil code replaced the Byzantine–Roman civil law in effect in Greece since its independence (Νομική Διάταξη της Ανατολικής Χέρσου Ελλάδος, Legal Provision of Eastern Mainland Greece, November 1821: 'Οι Κοινωνικοί Νόμοι των Αειμνήστων Χριστιανών Αυτοκρατόρων της Ελλάδος μόνοι ισχύουσι κατά το παρόν εις την Ανατολικήν Χέρσον Ελλάδα', 'The Social Laws of the Dear Departed Christian Emperors of Greece alone are in effect at present in Eastern Mainland Greece')
Guatemala Guatemala has had three Civil Codes: the first one from 1877, a new one introduced in 1933, and the one currently in force, which was passed in 1963. This Civil Code has suffered some reforms throughout the years, as well as a few derogations relating to areas which have subsequently been regulated by newer laws, such as the Code of Commerce and the Law of the National Registry of Persons. In general, it follows the tradition of the roman-French system of civil codification.

Regarding the theory of 'sources of law' in the Guatemalan legal system, the 'Ley del Organismo Judicial' recognizes 'the law' as the main legal source (in the sense of legislative texts), although it also establishes 'jurisprudence' as a complementary source. Although jurisprudence technically refers to judicial decisions in general, in practice it tends to be confused and identified with the concept of 'legal doctrine', which is a qualified series of identical resolutions in similar cases pronounced by higher courts (the Constitutional Court acting as a 'Tribunal de Amparo', and the Supreme Court acting as a 'Tribunal de Casación') whose theses become binding for lower courts.

Haiti Influenced by the Napoleonic Code
Honduras
Hungary Based on codified Roman law, with elements of the Napoleonic civil code
Iceland Based on Germanic traditional laws and influenced by Medieval Norwegian and Danish laws.
Italy Based on codified Roman law, with elements of the Napoleonic civil code; civil code of 1942 replaced the original one of 1865
Japan Modeled after European (primarily German) civil law system. Japanese civil code of 1895.
Latvia Largely influenced by Germany, medium influences from Russian and Soviet law.
Lebanon Modeled after French civil law
Lithuania Modeled after Dutch civil law
Luxembourg Influenced by the Napoleonic Code
Macau Based on the Portuguese strand of the continental tradition, itself much influenced by Germany; also influenced by the law of the PRC
Mauritius
Mexico "The origins of Mexico's legal system are both ancient and classical, based on the Greek, Roman and French legal systems, and the Mexican system shares more in common with other legal systems throughout the world (especially those in Latin America and most of continental Europe)..." From: http://www.mexonline.com/lawreview.htm Jaime B. Berger Stender Attorney at Law author, Tijuana, B.C., Mexico
Mongolia Civil Code of 2002 based on German BGB
Montenegro First: the General Property Code for the Principality of Montenegro of 1888, written by Valtazar Bogišić. Present: the Law on Obligations of 2008.
Mozambique Based on Portuguese civil law
Netherlands Influenced by the Napoleonic Code
Norway Scandinavian-German civil law. King Magnus VI the Lawmender unified the regional laws into a single code of law for the whole kingdom in 1274. This was replaced by Christian V's Norwegian Code of 1687.
Panama
Paraguay The Paraguayan Civil Code in force since 1987 is largely influenced by the Napoleonic Code and the Argentinian Code
Peru Based on civil law system; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations
Poland The Polish Civil Code in force since 1965
Portugal Influenced by the Napoleonic Code and later by the German Civil Law
Republic of China (Taiwan) Codification derived from German BGB.
Romania Based on the Napoleonic Code
Russia Civil Law system descendant from Roman Law through Byzantine tradition. Heavily influenced by German and Dutch norms in 1700-1800's. Socialist-style modification in 1900's, and Continental European Law influences since 1990's.
São Tomé e Príncipe Based on Portuguese civil law
Serbia First: the Civil Code of Principality of Serbia of 1844, written by Jovan Hadžić, was influenced by the Austrian Civil Code (Allgemeines bürgerliches Gesetzbuch). Present: The Swiss civil law (Zivilgesetzbuch) was a model for the Law on Obligations of 1978.
Slovakia Descended from the Civil Code of the Austrian Empire (1811), influenced by German (1939–45) and Soviet (1947/68-89) legal codes during occupation periods, substantially reformed to remove Soviet influence and elements of socialist law after the Velvet Revolution (1989).
Slovenia A Civil Law system influenced mostly by Germanic and Austro-Hungarian law systems
South Korea
Spain Influenced by the Napoleonic Code, it also has some elements of Spain's legal tradition, starting with the Siete Partidas, a major legislative achievement from the Middle Ages. That body of law remained more or less unchanged until the 19th century, when the first civil codes were drafted, merging both the Napoleonic style with the Castilian traditions.
Sweden Scandinavian-German civil law. Like all Scandinavian legal systems, it is distinguished by its traditional character and for the fact that it did not adopt elements of Roman law. It is indeed worth mentioning that it assimilated very few elements of foreign laws whatsoever. It is also interesting that the Napoleonic Code had no influence in codification of law in Scandinavia. The historical basis of the law of Sweden, just as for all Nordic countries, is Old German law. Codification of the law started in Sweden during the 18th century, preceding the codifications of most other European countries. However, neither Sweden, nor any other Nordic state created a civil code of the kind of the Code Civil or the BGB.
Switzerland The Swiss Civil Code of 1908 and 1912 (obligations; fifth book)
Timor-Leste Based on Portuguese civil law
Turkey Modeled after the Swiss civil law (Zivilgesetzbuch) of 1907; this has been a conscious choice of Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the modern Turkish state, in order to abolish the Islamic law (Sharia), aiming at westernizing the country
Ukraine Civil Code of Ukraine of 2004
Uruguay
Uzbekistan Represents an evolution of Soviet civil law. Overwhelmingly strong impact of the Communist legal theory is traceable.
Vietnam Communist legal theory and French civil law

Read more about this topic:  List Of Country Legal Systems

Famous quotes containing the words civil and/or law:

    He was high and mighty. But the kindest creature to his slaves—and the unfortunate results of his bad ways were not sold, had not to jump over ice blocks. They were kept in full view and provided for handsomely in his will. His wife and daughters in the might of their purity and innocence are supposed never to dream of what is as plain before their eyes as the sunlight, and they play their parts of unsuspecting angels to the letter.
    —Anonymous Antebellum Confederate Women. Previously quoted by Mary Boykin Chesnut in Mary Chesnut’s Civil War, edited by C. Vann Woodward (1981)

    We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law.
    Bible: New Testament, Galatians 2:15-16.