Private Law in Louisiana: An Account of Civil Codes, Heritage, and Law Reform
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The evolution of private law in the state of Louisiana (USA) provides a unique account of civil codes, heritage, and law reform. The resulting legal system in the state was significantly shaped by the enactment of civil codes. Evolving from a first precedent found in the Digest of 1808 and until the ongoing revision efforts, yet also through the enactment of the 1825 and 1870 civil codes, Louisiana can claim a strong connection with codification. That connection is also explained by the Spanish and French heritage that molded the private law of the state. The heritage was petrified by the incorporation of provisions of continental European origin within the text of the Louisiana civil codes. The heritage was also subject to interferences from sister common law states, resulting in a blend of its own. A natural consequence of law reform, that blend was also sensed as part of a decodification process, reflected in the contents of revised statutes and special legislation. This essay aims to help readers understand (i) the context for codification in Louisiana; (ii) the evolution of the civil code and its different changes, focusing mainly on the rich legal history of the state; (iii) the structure and content of the current civil code, highlighting its more recent changes; (iv) the interplay of the civil code with other areas of law, such as constitutional law; and finally, (v) the place of the civil code within the legal universe of Louisiana private law.