Definition of civil code
A civil code is a systematic collection of laws designed to comprehensively deal with the core areas of private law. A jurisdiction that has a civil code generally also has a code of civil procedure. In some jurisdictions with a civil code, a number of the core areas of private law that would otherwise typically be codified in a civil code may instead be codified in a commercial code.
Contents of a civil code
A typical civil code deals with the fields of law known to the common lawyer as law of contracts, torts, property law, family law and the law of inheritance. Commercial law, corporate law and civil procedure are usually codified separately.
The older civil codes such as the French, Egyptian, and Austrian ones are structured under the Institutional System of the Roman jurist Gaius and generally have three large parts:
- Law of Persons (personae)
- Law of Things (res)
- Issues common to both parts (actiones).
The newer codes such as the ones of Germany, Switzerland and Portugal are structured according to the Pandectist System:
- General part
- Law of Obligation
- Law of Real Rights
- Family Law
- Law of Inheritance
The civil code of the state of Louisiana, following the institutions system, is divided into five parts:
- Preliminary Title
- Of Persons
- Things and Different Modifications of Ownership
- Of Different Modes of Acquiring the Ownership of Things
- Conflict of Laws
Pandectism also had an influence on the earlier codes and their interpretation. For example, Austrian civil law is typically taught according to the Pandect System (which was devised by German scholars in the time between the enactment of the Austrian and the German Codes), even though this is not consistent with the structure of the Code.
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