|Napoleonic Code or Code Napoléon|
First page of the 1804 original edition.
|Original title||Code civil des Français|
|Date effective||21 March 1804 (frequently amended)|
The Napoleonic Code (French : Code Napoléon; officially Code civil des Français, referred to as (le) Code civil) is the French civil code established under the French Consulate in 1804.
French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.
France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.
A civil code is a systematic collection of laws designed to deal with the core areas of private law such as for dealing with business and negligence lawsuits and practices. 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.
It was drafted by a commission of four eminent jurists and entered into force on 21 March 1804.The Code, with its stress on clearly written and accessible law, was a major step in replacing the previous patchwork of feudal laws. Historian Robert Holtman regards it as one of the few documents that have influenced the whole world.
The Napoleonic Code was not the first legal code to be established in a European country with a civil legal system; it was preceded by the Codex Maximilianeus bavaricus civilis (Bavaria, 1756), the Allgemeines Landrecht (Prussia, 1794), and the West Galician Code (Galicia, then part of Austria, 1797). It was, however, the first modern legal code to be adopted with a pan-European scope, and it strongly influenced the law of many of the countries formed during and after the Napoleonic Wars.The Napoleonic Code influenced developing countries outside Europe, especially in the Middle East, attempting to modernize their countries through legal reforms.
Civil law, or civilian law, is a legal system originating in Europe, intellectualized within the framework of Roman law, the main feature of which is that its core principles are codified into a referable system which serves as the primary source of law. This can be contrasted with common law systems, the intellectual framework of which comes from judge-made decisional law, and gives precedential authority to prior court decisions, on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different occasions.
The Codex Maximilianeus bavaricus civilis was a civil code enacted in the Electorate of Bavaria in 1756. It was drafted entirely by the Bavarian chancellor, Wiguläus von Kreittmayr, and was named after Maximilian III Joseph. Written in German, it nonetheless included many Latin phrases. In its content, it adhered to the Usus modernus Pandectarum more strongly than later codification projects. It remained in force in Bavaria until the enactment of the German Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (BGB) on January 1, 1900.
Bavaria, officially the Free State of Bavaria, is a landlocked federal state of Germany, occupying its southeastern corner. With an area of 70,550.19 square kilometres, Bavaria is the largest German state by land area comprising roughly a fifth of the total land area of Germany. With 13 million inhabitants, it is Germany's second-most-populous state after North Rhine-Westphalia. Bavaria's main cities are Munich and Nuremberg.
The categories of the Napoleonic Code were not drawn from the earlier French laws, but instead from Justinian’s sixth-century codification of Roman law, the Corpus Juris Civilis and within it, the Institutes.The Institutes divide law into the law of:
Justinian I, traditionally known as Justinian the Great and also Saint Justinian the Great in the Eastern Orthodox Church, was the Eastern Roman emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the historical Roman Empire. Justinian's rule constitutes a distinct epoch in the history of the Later Roman empire, and his reign is marked by the ambitious but only partly realized renovatio imperii, or "restoration of the Empire".
Roman law is the legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables, to the Corpus Juris Civilis ordered by Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I. Roman law forms the basic framework for civil law, the most widely used legal system today, and the terms are sometimes used synonymously. The historical importance of Roman law is reflected by the continued use of Latin legal terminology in many legal systems influenced by it, including common law.
The Corpus JurisCivilis is the modern name for a collection of fundamental works in jurisprudence, issued from 529 to 534 by order of Justinian I, Eastern Roman Emperor. It is also sometimes referred to as the Code of Justinian, although this name belongs more properly to the part titled Codex Justinianus.
Similarly, the Napoleonic Code divided law into four sections:
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Napoleon set out to reform the French legal system in accordance with the ideas of the French Revolution, because the old feudal and royal laws seemed confusing and contradictory. Before the Napoleonic Code, France did not have a single set of laws; law consisted mainly of local customs, which had sometimes been officially compiled in "customals" ( coutumes ), notably the Custom of Paris . There were also exemptions, privileges, and special charters granted by the kings or other feudal lords. During the Revolution, the last vestiges of feudalism were abolished.
The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.
Law is a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It has been defined both as "the Science of Justice" and "the Art of Justice". Law is a system that regulates and ensures that individuals or a community adhere to the will of the state. State-enforced laws can be made by a collective legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes, by the executive through decrees and regulations, or established by judges through precedent, normally in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals can create legally binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that may elect to accept alternative arbitration to the normal court process. The formation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution, written or tacit, and the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people.
Coutumes were the customary laws of France.
Specifically, as to civil law, the many different bodies of law used in different parts of France were replaced by a single legal code. Jean-Jacques Régis de Cambacérès led this drafting process. His drafts of 1793 (for which he had been given a one-month deadline), 1794, and 1799, however, were adopted only piecemeal by a National Convention more concerned about the turmoil resulting from the various wars and strife with other European powers.
The National Convention was the first government of the French Revolution, following the two-year National Constituent Assembly and the one-year Legislative Assembly. Created after the great insurrection of 10 August 1792, it was the first French government organized as a republic, abandoning the monarchy altogether. The Convention sat as a single-chamber assembly from 20 September 1792 to 26 October 1795.
A fresh start was made after Napoleon came to power in 1799. A commission of four eminent jurists was appointed in 1800, including Louis-Joseph Faure and chaired by Cambacérès (now Second Consul), and sometimes by the First Consul, Napoleon himself. The Code was complete by 1801, after intensive scrutiny by the Council of State, but was not published until 21 March 1804. It was promulgated as the "Civil Code of the French" (Code civil des Français), but was renamed "the Napoleonic Code" (Code Napoléon) from 1807 to 1815, and once again after the Second French Empire.
The process developed mainly out of the various customs, but was inspired by Justinian’s sixth-century codification of Roman law, the Corpus Iuris Civilis and, within that, Justinian's Code (Codex). The Napoleonic Code, however, differed from Justinian’s in important ways: it incorporated all kinds of earlier rules, not only legislation; it was not a collection of edited extracts, but a comprehensive rewrite; its structure was much more rational; it had no religious content,and it was written in the vernacular.
The development of the Napoleonic Code was a fundamental change in the nature of the civil law system, making laws clearer and more accessible. It also superseded the former conflict between royal legislative power and, particularly in the final years before the Revolution, protests by judges representing views and privileges of the social classes to which they belonged. Such conflict led the Revolutionaries to take a negative view of judges making law.
This is reflected in the Napoleonic Code provision prohibiting judges from deciding a case by way of introducing a general rule (Article 5), since the creation of general rules is an exercise of legislative and not of judicial power. In theory, there is thus no case law in France. However, the courts still had to fill in the gaps in the laws and regulations and, indeed, were prohibited from refusing to do so (Article 4). Moreover, both the code and legislation have required judicial interpretation. Thus a vast body of case law has come into existence. There is no rule of stare decisis (binding precedent) in French law, but decisions by important courts have become more or less equivalent to case law (see jurisprudence constante).
The preliminary article of the Code established certain important provisions regarding the rule of law. Laws could be applied only if they had been duly promulgated, and then only if they had been published officially (including provisions for publishing delays, given the means of communication available at the time). Thus, no secret laws were authorized. It prohibited ex post facto laws (i.e. laws that apply to events that occurred before their introduction). The code also prohibited judges from refusing justice on grounds of insufficiency of the law, thereby encouraging them to interpret the law. On the other hand, it prohibited judges from passing general judgments of a legislative value (see above).
With regard to family, the Code established the supremacy of the man over the wife and children, which was the general legal situation in Europe at the time.A woman was given fewer rights than a minor. Divorce by mutual consent was abolished in 1804.
The Draft on Military Code was presented to Napoleon by the Special Commission headed by Pierre Daru in June 1805; however, as the War Against the Third Coalition progressed, the Code was put aside and never implemented.
In 1791, Louis Michel le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau presented a new criminal code to the national Constituent Assembly.He explained that it outlawed only "true crimes", and not "phony offenses created by superstition, feudalism, the tax system, and [royal] despotism". He did not list the crimes "created by superstition". The new penal code did not mention blasphemy, heresy, sacrilege, witchcraft or homosexuality, which led to these former offences being swiftly decriminalized. In 1810, a new criminal code was issued under Napoleon. As with the Penal Code of 1791, it did not contain provisions for religious crimes or homosexuality.
As the entire legal system was being overhauled, the code of civil procedure was adopted in 1806. This had to do with the legal system, specifically how judges were corresponding over different regions of France.
The commercial code (code de commerce) was adopted in 1807.The kernel of the commercial code is the BOOK III, "Of The Different Modes Of Acquiring Property", of the Napoleonic Code. It is a norm about the contracts and transactions.
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In 1808, a code of criminal instruction (code d'instruction criminelle) was published. This code laid out criminal procedure. The parlement system, from before the Revolution, had been guilty of much abuse, while the criminal courts established by the Revolution were a complex and ineffective system, subject to many local pressures. The genesis of this code resulted in much debate. The resulting code is the basis of the modern so-called "inquisitorial system" of criminal courts, used in France and many civil law countries, though significantly changed since Bonaparte's day (especially with regard to the expansion of the rights of the defendant).
The French Revolution's Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen declared that suspects were presumed to be innocent until they had been declared guilty by a court. A concern of Bonaparte's was the possibility of arbitrary arrest, or excessive remand (imprisonment prior to a trial). Bonaparte remarked that care should be taken to preserve personal freedoms, especially when the case was before the Imperial Court: "these courts would have a great strength, they should be prohibited from abusing this situation against weak citizens without connections." However, remand still was the usual procedure for defendants suspected of serious crimes such as murder.
The possibility of lengthy remand periods was one reason why the Napoleonic Code was criticized for its de facto presumption of guilt, particularly in common law countries. Another reason was the combination of magistrate and prosecutor in one position.However, the legal proceedings did not have de jure presumption of guilt; for instance, the juror’s oath explicitly required that the jury not betray the interests of the defendants and not ignore the means of defense.
The rules governing court proceedings, by today’s standards, gave significant power to the prosecution; however, criminal justice in European countries in those days tended to side with repression. For instance, it was only in 1836 that prisoners charged with a felony were given a formal right to counsel, in England. In comparison, article 294 of the Napoleonic Code of Criminal Procedure allowed the defendant to have a lawyer before the Court of Assizes (judging felonies), and mandated the court to appoint a lawyer for the defendant if the defendant did not have one (failure to do so rendered the proceedings null).
Whether or not the Cour d'assises, whose task was to judge severe crimes, were to operate with a jury was a topic of considerable controversy. Bonaparte supported jury trials (or petit jury), and they were finally adopted. On the other hand, Bonaparte was opposed to the indictment jury ("grand jury" of common law countries), and preferred to give this task to the criminal division of the Court of Appeals. Some special courts were created to judge of criminals who could intimidate the jury.
Bonaparte also insisted that the courts judging civil and criminal cases should be the same, if only to give them more prestige.
The French codes, now more than 60 in number,are frequently amended, as well as judicially re-interpreted. Therefore, for over a century all of the codes in force have been documented in the annually revised editions published by Dalloz (Paris). These editions consist of thorough annotations, with references to other codes, relevant statutes, judicial decisions (even if unpublished), and international instruments. The "small (petit)" version of the Civil Code in this form is nearly 3,000 pages, available in print and online. Additional material, including scholarly articles, is added in the larger "expert (expert)" version and the still larger "mega (méga)" version, both of which are available in print and on searchable CD-ROM. By this stage, it has been suggested, the Civil Code has become "less a book than a database".
The sheer number of codes, together with digitisation, led the Commission supérieure de codification to reflect in its annual report for 2011:
A year later, the Commission recommended that, after its current codification projects were completed, there should not be any further codes; an additional reason was government delay in publishing reforms that the Commission had completed.The government responded encouragingly in March 2013, but the Commission complains that this has not been followed through; in particular, that the government has abandoned its plan for a public service code (code général de la fonction publique).
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Even though the Napoleonic Code was not the first civil code and did not represent the whole of his empire, it was one of the most influential. It was adopted in many countries occupied by the French during the Napoleonic Wars, and thus formed the basis of the private law systems of Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal (and their former colonies), and Poland (1808–1946). In the German regions on the west bank of the Rhine (Rhenish Palatinate and Prussian Rhine Province), the former Duchy of Berg and the Grand Duchy of Baden, the Napoleonic Code was in use until the introduction of the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch in 1900 as the first common civil code for the entire German Empire.
A number of factors have been shown by Arvind and Stirton to have had a determinative role in the decision by the German states to receive the Code, including territorial concerns, Napoleonic control and influence, the strength of central state institutions, a feudal economy and society, rule by liberal (enlightened despotism) rulers, nativism (local patriotism) among the governing elites, and popular anti-French sentiment.
A civil code with strong Napoleonic influences was also adopted in 1864 in Romania, and remained in force until 2011.The Code was also adopted in Egypt as part of the system of mixed courts introduced in Egypt after the fall of Khedive Ismail. The Code was translated into Arabic from the French by Youssef Wahba Pasha between 1881 and 1883. Other codes with some influence in their own right were the Swiss, German, and Austrian codes, but even therein some influence of the French code can be felt, as the Napoleonic Code is considered the first successful codification.
Thus, the civil law systems of the countries of modern continental Europe, with the exception of Russia and the Scandinavian countries have, to different degrees, been influenced by the Napoleonic Code. The legal systems of the United Kingdom other than Scotland, as well as Ireland and the Commonwealth, are derived from English common law rather than from Roman roots. Scots law, though also a civil law system, is uncodified; it was strongly influenced by Roman-Dutch legal thought, and after the Act of Union 1707, by English law.
The term "Napoleonic Code" is also used to refer to legal codes of other jurisdictions that are influenced by the French Code Napoléon, especially the Civil Code of Lower Canada (replaced in 1994 by the Civil Code of Quebec ), mainly derived from the Coutume de Paris , which the British continued to use in Canada following the Treaty of Paris in 1763. Most of the laws in Latin American countries are also heavily based on the Napoleonic Code, e.g. the Chilean Civil Code and the Puerto Rican Civil Code.
In the United States, whose legal system is largely based on English common law, the state of Louisiana is unique in having a strong influence from Napoleonic Code and Spanish legal traditions on its civil code (Spanish and French colonial forces quarreled over Louisiana during most of the 1700s, with Spain ultimately ceding the territory to France in 1800, which in turn sold the territory to the United States in 1803).Examples of the practical legal differences between Louisiana and the other states include the bar exam and legal standards of practice for attorneys in Louisiana being significantly different from other states; Louisiana being the only American state to practice forced heirship of a deceased person's estate; and some of Louisiana's laws clashing with the Uniform Commercial Code practiced by the other 49 states.
A jury trial, or trial by jury, is a lawful proceeding in which a jury makes a decision or findings of fact. It is distinguished from a bench trial in which a judge or panel of judges makes all decisions.
Criminal procedure is the adjudication process of the criminal law. While criminal procedure differs dramatically by jurisdiction, the process generally begins with a formal criminal charge with the person on trial either being free on bail or incarcerated, and results in the conviction or acquittal of the defendant. Criminal procedure can be either in form of inquisitorial or adversarial criminal procedure.
An inquisitorial system is a legal system where the court or a part of the court is actively involved in investigating the facts of the case, as opposed to an adversarial system where the role of the court is primarily that of an impartial referee between the prosecution and the defense. Inquisitorial systems are used primarily in countries with civil legal systems as opposed to common law systems. Countries using common law, including the United States, may use an inquisitorial system for summary hearings in the case of misdemeanors such as minor traffic violations. The distinction between an adversarial and inquisitorial system is theoretically unrelated to the distinction between a civil legal and common law system. Some legal scholars consider inquisitorial misleading, and prefer the word nonadversarial. The function is often vested in the office of the public procurator, as in China, Japan, Germany, and Scotland.
In law, codification is the process of collecting and restating the law of a jurisdiction in certain areas, usually by subject, forming a legal code, i.e. a codex (book) of law.
Jean-Jacques-Régis de Cambacérès, duc de Parme, was a French nobleman, lawyer and statesman during the French Revolution and the First Empire. He is best remembered as one of the authors of the Napoleonic Code, which still forms the basis of French civil law and French-inspired civil law in many countries.
Macau law is broadly based on Portuguese law, and therefore part of the civil law tradition of continental European legal systems. Portuguese law is itself highly influenced by German law. However, many other influences are present, including Chinese law, Italian law, and some narrow aspects of common law.
In France, career judges are considered civil servants exercising one of the sovereign powers of the state, so French citizens are eligible for judgeship, but so are all citizens of the EU countries. France's independent court system enjoys special statutory protection from the executive branch. Procedures for the appointment, promotion, and removal of judges vary depending on whether it is for the ordinary or administrative stream. Judicial appointments in the judicial stream must be approved by a special panel, the High Council of the Judiciary. Once appointed, career judges serve for life and cannot be removed without specific disciplinary proceedings conducted before the Council with due process.
Georges Antoine Chabot, known as Chabot de Lallier, was a French jurist and statesman.
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. Though the process and motivations for codification are similar in different common law and civil law systems, their usage is different.
The Legal system of Argentina is a Civil law legal system. The pillar of the Civil system is the Constitution of Argentina (1853).
In academic terms, French law can be divided into two main categories: private law and public law. This differs from the traditional common law concepts in which the main distinction is between criminal law and civil law.
The law of Germany, that being the modern German legal system, is a system of civil law which is founded on the principles laid out by the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, though many of the most important laws, for example most regulations of the civil code were developed prior to the 1949 constitution. It is composed of public law, which regulates the relations between a citizen/person and the state or two bodies of the state and the private law (Privatrecht) which regulates the relations between two people or companies. It has been subject to a wide array of influences from Roman law, such as the Corpus Juris Civilis, to Napoleonic law, such as the Napoleonic Code.
The Netherlands uses civil law. Its laws are written and the application of customary law is exceptional. The role of case law is small in theory, although in practice it is impossible to understand the law in many fields without also taking into account the relevant case law. The Dutch system of law is based on the French Civil Code with influences from Roman Law and traditional Dutch customary law. The new civil law books were heavily influenced by the German Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch.
Lithuanian law is a part of the legal system of Lithuania. It belongs to the civil law legal system, as opposed to the common law legal system. The legal system of Lithuania is based on epitomes of the French and German systems. The Lithuanian legal system is grounded on the principles laid out in the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and safeguarded by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania.
Law in the state of Louisiana is based on a more diverse set of sources than the laws of the other 49 states of the United States. Private law—that is, substantive law between private sector parties, principally contracts and torts—has a civil law character, based on French and Spanish codes and ultimately Roman law, with some common law influences. Louisiana's criminal law largely rests on American common law. Louisiana's administrative law is generally similar to the administrative law of the U.S. federal government and other U.S. states. Louisiana's procedural law is generally in line with that of other U.S. states, which in turn is generally based on the U.S. Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Israeli law is based mostly on a common law legal system, though it also reflects the diverse history of the territory of the State of Israel throughout the last hundred years, as well as the legal systems of its major religious communities. The Israeli legal system is based on common law, which also incorporates facets of civil law. The Israeli Declaration of Independence asserted that a formal constitution would be written, though it has been continuously postponed since 1950. Instead, the Basic Laws of Israel function as the country's constitutional laws. Statutes enacted by the Knesset, particularly the Basic Laws, provide a framework which is enriched by political precedent and jurisprudence. Foreign and historical influences on modern-day Israeli law are varied and include the Mecelle and German civil law, religious law, and British common law. The Israeli courts have been influenced in recent years by American Law and Canadian Law and to a lesser extent by Continental Law.
The Burgerlijk Wetboek is the Civil Code of the Netherlands. Early versions were largely based on the Napoleonic Code. The Dutch Civil Code was substantively reformed in 1992. The Code deals with the rights of natural persons, legal persons, patrimony and succession. It also sets out the law of property, obligations and contracts, and conflict of laws. Proposed amendments will add a Book on intellectual property. The codification of laws is still being used in Indonesia as a pinnacle of the private laws besides Sharia law and custom laws. The laws initially applied only to Dutch settlers and foreign traders such as Chinese traders, Indian traders and Arab traders during the Dutch colonial era in Dutch East Indies, but after the independence of Indonesia in 1945, the government decided to retain the old Dutch law, expanded in use to indigenous people and Moslems voluntarily. The 1992 reformed version does not apply in Indonesia.
All civil codes of Arab Middle Eastern states are based on Napoleonic Codes and were influenced by Egyptian legislation
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Code Napoléon .|