Is It Possible for a Minor Code of the Nineteenth Century to Serve as a Model in the Twenty-First Century?

  • Gabriel García CanteroEmail author
Part of the Ius Gentium: Comparative Perspectives on Law and Justice book series (IUSGENT, volume 32)


The 1889 Spanish Civil Code, belonging to the Civil Law and of a clear French inspiration, is a minor code in the big continental Romano-Germanic family, late adopted owing to domestic political reasons, which failed to satisfactorily solve the so called foral problem (or Proper Civil Law, surviving for historical reasons in many territories), to which article 149.1.8 of the Constitution in force gives a generous solution. The Code was enacted after the 1885 Commercial Code, which was deemed as special law, compared to the common or general law of the Civil Code, and was based on the old-fashioned theory of the act of commerce. The Code included the provisions of Private International Law and was supplemented by a number of special laws. In 1973, the Preliminary Title was modernized by clearly outlining the role of case law and by developing legal interpretation techniques, as well as the private international law system. Family law and succession were deeply modified by the 1978 Constitution. Since 1985, it has become part of the European Union, and it has incorporated to its provisions the Communitarian Law, highly important in relation to the protection to consumers. Civil doctrine was originally inspired in the French and Italian doctrine of the nineteenth century, but it is through the Italian doctrine that it has received a strong influence of the German Dogmatic. As from the end of the twentieth century, it has also been sensitive to the Common Law, especially from the United States of America. It is also open to the unification movement in Europe and, in general, to the comparative law.


Civil law Romano-Germanic family Spanish sub-family or micro-systems Decodification and recodification 1978 Spanish Constitution: art. 149.1.8 Civil Law of general application and Foral Law Role of special laws Autonomous regions and communities Communitarian Law Unification of the European Contractual Law Consumer Law 


In all the general works of Civil Law, there is a chapter on Codification and its effects. Among the more recent works, we can find

  1. Lacruz and altri (2002) Elementos de Derecho Civil, I-1 (3me.ed. a los cuidados de Delgado Echeverria). Dykinson, Madrid, pp 53–106Google Scholar
  2. VVAA (2008) Curso de Derecho Civil (I) Derecho Privado Derecho de la persona (Pablo Álvarez y Perex Contreras), 3 ed. Madrid, pp 47–130, both with plenty of updated bibliography, Colex. Editorial Constitucion y LeyGoogle Scholar

On the historical formation of the Spanish Civil law and the history of codification we find

  1. De Castro (1949) Derecho civil de España, 2ª ed. Instituto de Estudios Politicos, Madrid, pp 137–210Google Scholar
  2. Mozos L (1977) Derecho Civil español, I, Parte general. Kadmos, Salamanca, pp 157–258Google Scholar
  3. Pazos B (1983) La codificación del Derecho civil de Espana – 1889 1808. Universidad de Cantabria, SantanderGoogle Scholar

Other materials

  1. On the 1851 Draft:Google Scholar
  2. De Pablo Contreras (2004) Unidad constitucional y codificación del Derecho privado. In volume “La proliferación legislative: Un desafío para el Estado de derecho (dir. Menéndez y Pau Padrón). Thomson/Civitas, Madrid, p 499Google Scholar
  3. Fernández G (1979) Temas de Historia del Derecho: Derecho del constitucionalismo y la codificación, II, Sevilla (1889) Código civil. Debates parlamentatios (1885–1889) (Estudio preliminary de De Los Mozos). Universidad de Sevilla, MadridGoogle Scholar
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  5. García G (1852) Concordancias, motivos y comentarios del Código civil español Madrid, there is a reprint, with a preliminary note in charge of Lacruz Berdejo (Zaragoza 1974). Socieded Tipográfico-EditorialGoogle Scholar
  6. Tomás y Valiente (1983) Offers a comprehensive version of the codification process between 1880 and 1889, in his Manual de Historia del Derecho español, 4e. ed. Tecnos, MadridGoogle Scholar

On the current value of the Civil Code we find

  1. Arce y Flórez-Valdés (1986) El Derecho civil constitucional. Cuadernos Gritas, MadridGoogle Scholar
  2. De Aguirre M (1991) El Derecho civil a finales del siglo XX. Tecnos, MadridGoogle Scholar
  3. Gil H (1943) El concepto de Derecho civil. Madrid: Revista del Derecho Privado (1950) s.v. Derecho civil, in Nejs. Barcelona; (1984) En defensa del Código civil. Escuda Social de Madrid, MadridGoogle Scholar
  4. Liaño P (1994) Código civil y ordenamiento jurídico. Comares, GranadaGoogle Scholar
  5. Martínez V (2011) Acerca del valor permanente del Derecho civil como Derecho de la persona en la era de la globalización, “Estudios Hom. Monté Penadés” II. Tirant lo Blanch, Valencia, p 2825 ssGoogle Scholar
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On its relationship with commercial law we find

  1. Bercovitz R (1990) Codificación mercantile, “Centenaro del Cc”, I. Centro de Estudios Ramón Areces, Madrid, p 287 ffGoogle Scholar
  2. Broseta (1965) La empresa la unificación del Derecho de obligaciones y el Derecho mercantile. Tecnos, MadridGoogle Scholar
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  4. Guillamón R (2012) Armonización, unificación y modernización del Derecho de Obligaciones y Contraos (Notas para una reflexión). Report submitted in the XVI Jornadas de los Profesores de Derecho civil (Civil Law Professors’ Workshop) (Zaragoza, 16–17 November 2012)Google Scholar
  5. Jordano, Derecho civil y Derecho mercantile, RDP (1964)Google Scholar
  6. On the interpretation of article 149.1.8 of the 1978 Constitution: bibliography is abundant and Professor De Pablo Contreras points out in this respect three fundamental positions of doctrine: (1) Restrictive (Elizalde, Lasarte, Díez-Picazo); (2) Autonomous (Encarna Roca Trías, M Paz Sánchez González); (3) Historical (Delgado, R. Bercovitz). More in detail, Lasarte (1980) Autonomías y Derecho privado en la Constitución española. Arce, Madrid; Janáriz (1987) Constitución y Derechos civiles forales. Pena, Madrid; López (1995) Derecho civil, Derecho común, Derecho especial, ACGoogle Scholar
  7. Special Civil Law: A general exposition, though more comprehensive, of special civil law or foral law and including autonomic civil laws: Bercovitz R et Martínez Simancas (directores) (2000) Derechos civiles de España, 9 tomos, MadridGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Derecho Privado, Private Law Department, Civil LawUniversity of ZaragozaZaragozaSpain

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