Civil Law vs. Civil Code

The discussion below is based on an outline in the book of Paras (2008). Please see citation below. His books are available in fine bookstores nationwide.

Is there a difference between "civil law" and the "Civil Code"? Definitely, the answer is yes. Civil law is a broad subject; in fact, it is one of the eight subjects in the bar examination in the Philippines. On the other hand, the New Civil Code of the Philippines is simply one of the many sources of civil law provision in our legal system.

In other words, the Civil Code is a repository of civil laws but it is not the only source of civil laws. Other examples of civil laws not found in the Civil Code are explained by Paras (2008) in his books, part of which is quoted below.

"While most of our civil laws are found in the Civil Code, still the Civil Code is not the only place where we can fi nd our civil laws. A Civil Code is a compilation of existing civil laws, scientifically arranged into books, titles, chapters, and subheads and promulgated by legislative authority. (Black’s Law Dictionary, p. 334). A codifi cation may be necessary to provide for simplicity, unity, order, and reform in legislation. From time to time, however, additional civil statutes, civil presidential decrees (during the existence of martial law), or civil executive orders may be promulgated. For instance, Presidential Decree 603, otherwise known as “The Child and Youth Welfare Code,’’ effective six months from the date of its approval on December 10, 1974 (Art. 213 thereof) introduces new rules on adoption and child welfare. In fact, said Code expressly repeals Articles 334 up to 348 inclusive (articles on adoption) of the Civil Code, and replaces them with Articles 27 to 42 inclusive of The Child and Youth Welfare Code. (Art. 26, PD 603). In turn, PD 603 has been amended by PD 1179."
Civil law is actually called "civilian law" in other jurisdictions. "Civilian" is an apt term because rights and duties of individuals among themselves is the primary concern of civil law.

On July 6, 1987, President Corazon C. Aquino, using her extraordinary powers, promulgated "The Family Code of the Philippines," Executive Order (EO) 209. This was later on amended by EO 227 on July 17, 1987. Art. 257 thereof reads: "Art. 257. This Code shall take effect one year after the completion of its publication in a newspaper of general circulation, as certifi ed by the Executive Secretary, Office of the President. Publication shall likewise be made in the Official Gazette."

Note that the Family Code of the Philippines is a source of civil laws, the same way as the Civil Code is. The Domestic Adoption Law is another example among hundreds of other civil laws.

SOURCES: Justice Edgardo Paras (2008). Civil Code of the Philippines Annotated. Volume I on Persons and Family Relations. Rex Book Store. 978-971-23-7989-5. Page 3.

Definition of 'civil law'. Project Jurisprudence, citing Outline of civil law (common law) from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.