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Les Cinq Codes

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CODES, LES CINQ, is the name given to several compilations of laws, civil and criminal, made in France after the revolution, and under Bonaparte's administration. They consist of the Code Civil, Code de Procedure Civile, Code de Commerce, Code d'Instruction Criminelle, and Code Penal. To these has been added the Code Forestier, or regulations concerning the woods and forests, promulgated under Charles X. in 1827. Hence the whole collection is sometimes called ' Les Six Codes.' But even this name is not correct, as, in addi tion to the six already mentioned, there are the following codes: Code Adminis tratif; Code de rArmde ; Code des Avo cats ; Code de la Chasse ; Code de la Con trainte par Corps; Code des Contribuables ; Code des Cultes ; Code Electoral ; Code de l'Enregistrement (which includes the Stamp laws) ; Code de l'Expropriation par Cause d'Utilitd Publique ; Code des Frais, for regulating the official charges of courts of law ; Code de la Garde Na tionale; Code de l'Instruction Publique ; Code Municipal et Departemental ; Code des Officiers Ministeriels (advocates, no taries, &c.) ; Code des Patentee ; Code de la P4che Fluviale ; Code des Poids et Mesures ; Code de la Police Medicale ; Code de la Presse; Code de la Propriete Industrielle et Litteraire ; Code Rural ; Code des Tribunaux ; Code de la Voirie (rivers, canals, highways, streets, and public vehicles). The Charte of 1830 is sometimes called the Code Politique.

Civil Code.—The old laws of the French kingdom were founded partly on the Ro man law, partly on the customs of the various provinces, and partly on the ordi nances of the kings. Having been abro gated at the Revolution, several attempts were made, by Cambaceres among others, to form a code adapted to the altered state of society ; but the fury of the internal factions, the cares of foreign war, and the frequent changes of rulers, prevented any calm deliberation on the subject during the first years of the Revolution. After Bonaparte became First Consul, he appointed, in 1800, a commission, con sisting of Tronchet, president of the Court of Caseation, Bigot de Prdameneu, Portalis, and Malleville, to draw up a project of a civil code. The project was printed early in 1801, and copies were sent to the different courts of France for their observations and suggestions. The observations and suggestions were like wise printed, and the whole was then laid before the section of legislation of the council of state, which consisted of Boulay, Berlier, Emmery, Portalis, Roe derer, Real, and Thibandeau. Bona parte himself, and Cambacirds, his colleague in the consulship, took an active part in the debates. The various heads of the code were successively dis cussed, after which they were laid before the tribunate, where some of the pro visions met with considerable opposition. The code, however, passed at length both the tribunate and the legislative body, and was promulgated in 1804 as the civil law of France—' Code Civil des Fran cais.' Under the empire its name was changed into that of Code Napoleon, by which it is still often designated, though it has now officially resumed the original title of Code Civil. This code defines the civil rights of Frenchmen, and their legal relations to each other and to society at large. In its general arrange ment and distribution it resembles the Institutions of Justinian. It consists of three books, divided into titles or heads, each of which is subdivided into chapters and sections. Book I., in eleven heads, treats of persons ; specifies their civil rights ; regulates the means by which their rights are certified; prescribes the mode of registering births, marriages, and deaths ; defines the conditions which constitute the legal domicile of each indi vidual ; and provides for cases of absence.

It treats of marriage as a civil contract, the forms required, the obligations result ing from it, and lastly, of separation and divorce. The articles concerning divorce, which gave rise to much debate and opposition at the time, have been repealed since the Restoration, and separation alone is now allowed. The code proceeds to treat of the relations of father and son, of legitimate and natural children, of adoption and guardianship, and ofpater nal power. Under this last head, the French code, without adopting the rigid principle of the old Roman law in its full extent, gives to a father the right of imprisoning his son during his minority for a term not exceeding six months, by a petition to that effect, addressed to the president of the local court, who, after consulting with the king's attorney, may give the order of arrest without any other Judicial forms being required. The re maining heads treat of minority and emancipation ; majority, which is fixed, fbr both sexes, at 21 years complete ; of interdiction, and of trustees who are ap pointed in certain cases to administer the property of a man who is incapable of doing it himself. Book II. treats of pro perty. The 1st head draws the distinc tion between meubles and immeubles, or personal and real property; though these two words do not exactly express, to an English lawyer, the distinction between meubles and immeubles. The 2nd defines the different rights of ownership. The 3rd treats of usufruct, use, and habitation. The 4th concerns rural servitudes, the pmediorum servitudes of the Roman law : all former personal servitudes were abo lished at the Revolution. Book III. treats of the various modes by which property is legally acquired, such as inheritance, donation inter vivos, and wills or testa ments. A father can dispose by testament of one-half of his property if he has only one legitimate child, of one-third only if he has two, and of one-fourth if he has three or more. The law then proceeds to treat of contracts, and specifies the modes of proving them by written documents, official or private, or by witnesses, or lastly by presumption. The 5th head treats of marriage, and the respective rights of husband and wife according to the terms of the marriage contract. Next come the heads of sales, exchanges, leases, partnerships, loans, deposits, and seques tration. The 12th head concerns the contracts called aleatoires, which depend in a great measure upon chance, such as insurance, annuities, &c. The law treats next of power of attorney, of bail and security, and of amicable compromise. The 18th head concerns privileged credi tors and mortgages. This subject is very elaborately treated, and has been much extolled as a very valuable part of the Civil Code, on account of the security which it gives to property by means of the public offices for registering snort gages, of which there is one in every district. The registration of mortgages has been adopted in most of the Italian states, and other countries besides France; but even this system is not considered perfect, because there is no obligation to register every sale or transmission of property, nor the servitudes affecting property ; and because the French code admits of sales by private contract, and of mortgages in favour of minors or wives, even without registration. In this particular the Austrian code is considered superior, because it enforces the registra tion of every transmission of property, and of every burthen or servitude, in the book of census, or cadasto, for each dis trict. (Grenier, Truitt" des Hypothegues, 1824: Introduction.) The nineteenth head of the French civil code treats of expropriation or seizing, or selling off by execution ; and the twentieth, or last, of prescription.

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