Civil law is the set of norms that regulate the private relations of the citizens of a State. These norms establish a normative framework for family relationships, personal rights, obligations, contracts or rights over things, among others.
This right was born in Roman times and is known in Roman law as the ius civile. Civil law is private law, which implies that it is made up of legal norms that impose obligations and provide rights in family relationships, property, inheritance, contracts, nationality, birth, capacity, etc. They are relationships that only concern the people who have that contract or that family relationship and are not in the public interest.
Likewise, civil law is one of the great groups of norms in which all positive law differs. This positive right is about the set of written norms (behaviors to be followed) that govern a country.
The basic branches in which positive law differs are:
- Criminal law.
- Civil law.
- Administrative law.
- Labor law.
- Commercial law.
- Constitutional right.
- Procedural law.
Branches of civil law
Civil law can be divided into five large groups depending on the object of its regulation.
- Family law: These rules are intended to regulate family relationships such as, for example, which matrimonial regimes spouses can avail themselves of, the filiation of children and how marital crises (divorce, separation or nullity) should be regulated.
- Succession law: Its purpose is to regulate all financial situations that may arise once a person dies. These rules establish, for example, how a will must be entered, when a declaration of heirs is necessary and who has the right to inherit and how.
- Real rights: They consist of a power that a natural or legal person has over a thing and before third parties, which allows no one to use and enjoy the thing over which they have this legal power. They regulate, for example, property.
- Contract rights and obligations: It establishes the regulatory framework that governs the limitations to contract, what an obligation consists of, and even civil liability.
- Right of the person: Regulates the intrinsic rights of the person such as nationality, birth, capacity to act, residence or marital status.
- Although it is not a branch of civil law, private international law is also civil law, but it regulates rules to define jurisdiction or applicable law when a private dispute arises between citizens of different countries.
Characteristics of civil law
The main characteristics of this right are:
- It is a private right, that is, it regulates private relationships where there is no public interest.
- Its recipients can be natural or legal persons.
- It is responsible for introducing a regulatory framework to private relationships that occur in everyday life.
- Its main function is to define a framework of legal certainty so that people know what their rights are and what their obligations are. Thus, in legal trafficking, people may go to court if their rights are violated.
- The main source of civil law and that includes all the general rules of this right is the civil code.
- Civil law usually contains supplementary rules for other rights such as commercial or mortgage or banking.