Napoleonic Code

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Napoleonic Code

The first modern organized body of law governing France, also known as the Code Napoleon or Code Civil, enacted by Napoléon I in 1804.

In 1800, Napoléon I appointed a commission of four persons to undertake the task of compiling the Napoleonic Code. Their efforts, along with those of J. J. Cambacérès, were instrumental in the preparation of the final draft. The Napoleonic Code assimilated the private law of France, which was the law governing transactions and relationships between individuals. The Code, which is regarded by some commentators as the first modern counterpart to Roman Law, is currently in effect in France in an amended form.

The Napoleonic Code is a revised version of the Roman law or Civil Law, which predominated in Europe, with numerous French modifications, some of which were based on the Germanic law that had been in effect in northern France. The code draws upon the Institutes of the Roman Corpus Juris Civilis for its categories of the civil law: property rights, such as licenses; the acquisition of property, such as trusts; and personal status, such as legitimacy of birth.

Napoléon applied the code to the territories he governed—namely, some of the German states, the low countries, and northern Italy. It was extremely influential in Spain and, eventually, in Latin America as well as in all other European nations except England, where the Common Law prevailed. It was the harbinger, in France and abroad, of codifications of other areas of law, such as Criminal Law, Civil Procedure, and Commercial Law. The Napoleonic Code served as the prototype for subsequent codes during the nineteenth century in twenty-four countries; the province of Québec and the state of Louisiana have derived a substantial portion of their laws from it. Napoléon also promulgated four other codes: the Code of Civil Procedure (1807), the Commercial Code (1808), the Code of Criminal Procedure (1811), and the Penal Code (1811).

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Napoleonic Code

the name given to the French Civil Code. It brought together existing rules and implemented many of the new ideas of revolution. The provisions are brief and require judicial interpretation according to its spirit. Its structure is based on its civilian heritage and very broadly follows Justinian's Institutes (see CORPUS JURIS CIVILIS). The influence of the Code came from its implementation across Napoleon's sphere of influence including parts of Italy and Germany. The Code was a successful export, especially to the Americas. Its influence was weakened only when the German Civil Code (BGB) began to be copied by newer systems.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006
References in periodicals archive ?
(42) The French Civil Code available at: ;
Third parties may, in theory, bring proceedings on one of two following grounds: (i) Article 1382 of the French Civil Code relating to liability for damage caused by one's own acts; and (ii) Article 1384 of the French Civil Code relating to liability for damage caused by "things".
This book is the first ever translation into Arabic of the French civil code, which formed the basis for the Egyptian legal system.
As Patrick Weil explains, the main reason for maintaining a separate status for the indigenous population was the perceived conflict between Muslim and Jewish law and the French civil code. Family law posed the greatest obstacle: both Koranic and Talmudic law permitted divorce--outlawed in France after 1816--and even more problematically, polygamy.
(182) James Gordley, Myths of the French Civil Code, 42 AM.
This was the strategy of the French government in Algeria in 1830-51; however, the government eventually chose to transplant the principles of the French Civil Code to Algeria and rejected (at least, rhetorically, because it did not give up the lands it had already acquired) the heritage of the Ottomans.
Article 1156 of the French Civil Code provides that "One must in agreements seek what the common intention of the contracting parties was, rather than pay attention to the literal meaning of the terms."
Four legal scholars, all of whom were appointed by Napoleon, wrote the French Civil Code. (93) Surprisingly, the whole process only took four months to complete.
It had seemed possible then to be a French citizen without the obligations attaching to French nationality, including adherence to the French civil code, and to exercise the right of this citizenship--offering equal status, rights and protections--anywhere throughout the French Community.
Yes, Drivers Jonas registered part of the team it sRent to Cannes, but even if it had not registered any staff, operating as it did or ' the whole of Cannes, would contravene French competition laws under French Civil Code, article 1382.
Article 2059 of the French Civil Code similarly lays down that persons "may compromise rights that are freely available to them".
Why did the Code Napoleon--the French Civil Code of 1804--expressly forbid paternity searches, asks Fuchs (history, Arizona State U.), and why did that prohibition remain unchanged until 1912.