Which Countries Have a Civil Law System

Portugal, Brazil, and Italy moved from French to German influence, as their nineteenth-century civil codes were close to the Napoleonic Code and their twentieth-century civil codes are much closer to the German Civil Code. The legal culture and law schools have also moved closer to the German system. The law in these countries is often referred to as hybrid in nature. Despite resistance, the codification of European private law is progressing. The French Napoleonic Code of 1804, the German Civil Code of 1900 and the Swiss Civil Code were the most influential national civil codes. Legal systems vary considerably from country to country, but they generally follow civil or common law. At common law, precedents or court decisions are used to decide these cases. According to civil law, codified laws and regulations govern the country. Some countries, such as South Africa, use a combination of civil and customary law. However, there are some sociological differences.

Civilian judges are generally trained and promoted separately from lawyers, while common law judges are generally chosen from among accomplished and respected lawyers. The influence of jurists` articles on case law also tends to be much greater in civil law countries. The concept of codification was developed in the 17th and 18th centuries AD as an expression of both natural law and Enlightenment ideas. The political ideals of the time were expressed in the concepts of democracy, protection of property and the rule of law. These ideals required legal certainty, a recorded and uniform law. Thus, the mixture of Roman law and customary and local law gave way to legal codification. The concept of nation-State also implied a registered right applicable to that State. There has also been a reaction to the codification of laws. Proponents of codification see it as a solution conducive to security, unity and systematic registration of the right; while its opponents claimed that codification would lead to an ossification of the law. Lawyers still represent the interests of their clients in civil proceedings, but play a less central role. However, as in common law systems, their duties generally include advising clients on legal matters and preparing pleadings for filing with the court.

But the importance of oral arguments, court presentations and active pleading before the courts is less important than a common law system. In addition, non-procedural legal tasks, such as preparing wills and drafting contracts, may be entrusted to quasi-legal professionals who serve businesses and individuals and who cannot have postgraduate legal training or be admitted to court. Therefore, no wave of Roman influence completely dominated Europe. Roman law was a secondary source that was applied only when local customs and laws on a particular subject were lacking. After some time, however, local law was also interpreted and evaluated mainly on the basis of Roman law, as it was a kind of common European legal tradition and thus in turn influenced the main source of law. Eventually, the work of glossators and civil commentators led to the development of a common body of law and writings on law, a common legal language, and a common method of teaching and scholarship, all called ius commune or common law in Europe, consolidating canon law and Roman law and, to some extent, feudal law. The main difference between the two systems is that, in common law countries, case law — in the form of published legal opinions — is paramount, whereas in civil law systems, codified statutes predominate. But these divisions are not as clear as they seem. In fact, many countries use a mixture of features of general and civil law systems. To understand the differences between these systems, we must first understand their historical foundations.

The concept of codification developed especially in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as an expression of both natural law and the ideas of the Enlightenment. The political ideal of the time was expressed in the concepts of democracy, protection of property and the rule of law. This ideal required the creation of legal certainty through the registration of the law and its uniformity. Thus, the above-mentioned mixture of Roman, customary and local law has ceased to exist and the way has been opened for legal codification that could contribute to the objectives of the above-mentioned political ideal. According to the theory of legal origins, a controversial idea, developed by economists such as Andrei Shleifer and Robert W. Vishny, civil law countries tend to emphasize social stability, while common law countries focus on the rights of an individual. The thrust of the theory is that, unlike French civil law and, to a lesser extent, German and Scandinavian civil law, common law is associated with a stronger orientation towards market institutions (rather than state interventionism), which is why common law countries tend to be more economically developed. In theory, codes designed in the civil law system should go beyond the compilation of individual laws and instead enshrine the law in a coherent and comprehensive legal act, sometimes initiating major reforms or starting from scratch. [15] In this respect, civil codes are closer to the Reformulations of the Law, the Uniform Commercial Code (European-inspired) and the Model Penal Code in the United States.

In the United States, in the United States states began codification with the New York Field Code of 1850 (which established rules of civil procedure and was inspired by European and Louisiana codes). [16] Other examples include the California Codes (1872) and Revised Federal Statutes (1874) and the current United States Code (1926), which are closer to statute books than systematic legal records similar to civil law codes.