Definition of 'civil law'

The word “civil’’ is derived from the Latin word “civiles,’’ a citizen, as distinguished from a savage or a barbarian. Originally, the word pertained to a member of a “civitas’’ or free political community. (Black’s Law Dictionary, p. 331)

What is civil law? Paras (2008) defines it as that branch of law that generally treats of the personal and family relations of an individual, his property and successional rights, and the effects of his obligations and contracts. In short, civil law governs the relations of a person with his family and other people; it covers not only family relations but also property, contractual and other relations that are natural consequences of people interacting with one another.

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. It is often suggested that civil proceedings are taken for the purpose of obtaining compensation for injury, and may thus be distinguished from criminal proceedings, whose purpose is to inflict punishment. However, exemplary or punitive damages may be awarded in civil proceedings. It is important to emphasize that civil law concerns itself with non-criminal behavior.
Civil law, further explained by Paras (2008), citing 1 Falcon 9, is that mass of precepts that determine and regulate the relations of assistance, authority, and obedience among members of a family, and those which exist among members of a society for the protection of private interests, family relations, and property rights. (1 Sanchez Roman, Estudios de Derecho Civil, p. 70 citing Arribas)

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.

Outline of civil law (common law). From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia., citing Standler (1998). Differences between Civil and Criminal Law in the USA. Copyright 1998 by Ronald B. Standler.

CASE: It should be apparent that the growing trend to liberalize the acknowledgment or recognition of illegitimate children is an attempt to break away from the traditional idea of keeping well apart legitimate and non-legitimate relationships within the family in favor of the greater interest and welfare of the child. The provisions are intended to merely govern the private and personal affairs of the family. There is little, if any, to indicate that the legitimate or illegitimate civil status of the individual would also affect his political rights or, in general, his relationship to the State. While, indeed, provisions on "citizenship" could be found in the Civil Code, such provisions must be taken in the context of private relations, the domain of civil law; particularly -

"Civil Law is that branch of law which has for its double purpose the organization of the family and the regulation of property. It has thus [been] defined as the mass of precepts which determine and regulate the relations of assistance, authority and obedience among members of a family, and those which exist among members of a society for the protection of private interests." (G.R. No. 161434. March 3, 2004)