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The Civil Code of the Republic of Chile

The Civil Code of the Republic of Chile

The Civil Code of the Republic of Chile (Código Civil de la República de Chile, also referred to as the Code of Bello) is the work of jurist and legislator Andrés Bello. After several years of individual work (though officially presented as the work of multiple Congress commissions), Bello delivered a complete project of the Code on November 22, 1855, which was sent to Congress by President Manuel Montt, preceded by a foreword by Bello himself. Congress passed the Civil Code into law on December 14, 1855. It then came into force on January 1, 1857. Although it has been the object of numerous alterations, the Code has been kept in force since then.

Preliminary title (articles 1 to 53): the title deals with law in general. Similar to the French Code, it establishes that laws could only be applied if they had been duly promulgated and if they had been published officially (including provisions for publishing delays, given the means of communication available at the time). Thus, no secret laws were authorized. It prohibited ex post facto laws (i.e. laws that apply to events that occurred before them). It also prohibits judges from passing general judgments of a legislative value, see above. It also defines certain concepts general to the whole civil law.

Book I: On persons (articles 54 to 564): the book deals with the birth and death of persons, marriage and paternity. It also deals with the creation and liability of legal persons. This section of the Code has been highly modified in the last 20 years, along with the Book III, in order to eliminate discriminations between children born from married and unmarried couples.

Book II: On goods, its property, possession, use and profit (articles 565 to 950): the book contains the general dispositions relative to the distinct kinds of goods, the means of property acquisition, possession, the rights different from property and the judicial remedies to protect them.

Book III: On successions and donations (articles 951 to 1436): it makes provisions regarding the destination of the property after the death of a person, the formation and execution of wills and, finally, it deals with donations.
Book IV: On obligations in general and contracts (articles 1437 to 2524): the book regulates the general theory of contracts, the most important contracts in particular, the annulment and satisfaction of contracts. It also deals with torts.

Final article: On the obedience of the Code: the title determines the date in which the Code would come into force and the derogation of all laws relative to the matter of the Civil Code.

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