SPANISH LAW. The system of juris prudence and judicial practice as developed in Spain and later extended to the Spanish West Indies, Central America, Mexico, the Spanish speaking countries of South America and the Philippines. It is one of the oldest systems of law, and as at present constituted is a mixture of Roman, Germanic and Arabic elements, with marked traces of the influence of canon law.
Roman law became dominant in Spain as early as 200 ac. and retained its supremacy practically until the conquest of the Visigoths, after which the Germanic•law coexisted with the Roman law. There were several codifica tions of the law before the year 653. The Arab conquest of the 8th century was an important factor in modifying Spanish law. About 1265 Roman and canon law became prominent. Then succeeded several centuries of struggle for su premacy between the native and the Roman law. The various codes existing at this time caused great confusion in the positive law, and unsuc cessful attempts were made to simplify it dur ing the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella (1490 1502). Later the Justinian and canon laws spread rapidly throughout many of the king doms of the peninsula. In 1567 a general code was promulgated. A peculiarity of Span ish legislation is that no code has ever been promulgated to repeal the old codes, and the result has been difficulty in interpreting the existent law. • At the adoption of the constitution of 1876, which is now in force, civil, commercial, crim inal and military law have been incorporated into separate codes. Likewise a judiciary act and codes of civil and criminal procedure have been adopted. In 1910 a commission was ap pointed to revise and recodify the procedural, penal and civil codes and the judiciary laws.
The Spanish civil code was promulgated by decree in 1889, and extended to the colonies later in the same year. It is still in force. This code, which is divided into four books, deals with corporations, the law of persons, marriage, guardianship, law of property, contracts, juris diction, conflict of laws, etc. The subject of marriage was formerly left to the canon or ecclesiastical law, but under book one of the code of 1889 civil marriages are permissible, with the important qualification that all persons who profess Catholicism must celebrate the canonical form. The third book of this code
provides that no private property shall be taken for public use without due compensation — an exact counterpart of the principle made familiar in the United States by constitutional provi sions.. A noticeable feature of the Spanish law in regard to the descent of property and suc cession makes it illegal for a parent to disin herit legitimate children. Two-thirds of the estate is thus reserved. Some criticism has been aimed at the code of 1889, among others that it is incomplete. As instances it is said to contain nothing regarding certain prior laws such as those relating to mines, hunting, fish eries and civil registry. In addition it leaves questionable the relation of non-Castilian legis lations and the customary law to the civil code. With the exception of the subject of marriage this code has only subsidiary force in the prov inces of Aragon, Catalonia, Navarre and the Balearic Isles. The Roman law, civil and canon, is still subsidiary law in Catalonia.
The commercial code, owing to imperative need, antedated the civil code. Spain is said to have produced the first code of mercantile law in the "Ordinances of Bilboa" (1737), which spread to America and remained in effect in Mexico until 1884. Spain codified commercial law in 1830. The great commercial develop ment of the country late in the 19th century emphasized the need of reform, and in 1885 a new code went into effect, which later in the same year was extended to Cuba and Porto Rico. Much supplementary legislation has been enacted in late years. The commercial code treats of commerce and registry, commer cial contracts, banking, railroads, insurance, mercantile guaranties, commercial paper, mari time commerce, shipping, insolvency, bank ruptcy, limitation of actions in commercial affairs, etc.