This is a specialized sub-listing of our comprehensive Law Dictionary, where we've grouped terms relevant to this topic. If your civil law term is not here, do a SEARCH using the search box above. And because the civil law is a child of Roman law, see also our Latin Law Dictionary.

For this Civil Law Dictionary, we invite you to read the Introductory Note!

If you feel confident that we're missing a civil law term (after having read they diatribe below under Introductory Note), please contact us!

Introductory Note to the Civil Law Dictionary

At the risk of offending the National Committee on Accreditation of the Canadian Federation of Law Societies, which commands fees the more course they can impose on civil law lawyers seeking to become common law lawyers, and vice versa, there is a clear pattern of rapprochement between the ancient common law and civil law systems.

Wherever you look, now, you can see counter-parts of the concept of one system in the law books of the other.

With modern travel and communication, this was inevitable. After all, the law is based on human conduct and, frankly, in 2009, other than the quality of their respective hockey teams and a language switch, there's not much difference between potential torts and contract terms in Vancouver and Montréal.

And so, to be true to my readers, I have not re-invented the wheel for the sake of expounding distinctions when in fact, if not in law, none exists. For example, while academics in their cluttered university offices would decry this statement, there is little practical difference between the common law of tort and the civil law of delicts (or civil liability).

Defamation is diffamation, strict liability, la responsabilité stricte, passing-off, la commercialisation trompeuse, unjust enrichment is l'enrichissement sans cause, and so on and so forth.

Even those two last bastions of old English law, contract law and equity, timidly hide though their progeny persists as bold doctrines, the latter behind an esoteric concept of consideration that no right-minded modern judge would ever defer to in a real contract case except where it might be otherwise voidable as unconscionable.

Thus, I have extracted those terms which in fact are essentially the same in the common or in civil law and this Civil Law Dictionary only includes those terms which originates in the civil law, have no real common law counterpart; or which present as a distinct word in the civil law (eg. prescription instead of limitations and civil liability instead of tort).

Throughout the main Legal Dictionary, the civil law concept is distinguished if necessary, or the civil law French equivalent of a term is given at the bottom of the definition, right before references, if any.

Lloyd Duhaime, LL.B.
Barreau du Québec, 1985; Law Society of British Columbia, 1997
Montréal, Québec, Tuesday, October 6, 2009