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The Napoleon Series > Government > Governments and Politics

French Civil Code


Of the Publication, Effect, and Application of the Laws in General.

Decreed 5th of March, 1803. Promulgated 15th of the same Month


  1. The laws are executory throughout the whole French territory, by virtue of the promulgation thereof made by the first consul.
    They shall be executed in every part of the republic, from the moment at which their promulgation can have been known.
    The promulgation made by the first consul shall be taken to be known in the department which shall be the seat of government, one day after the promulgation; and in each of the other departments, after the expiration of the same interval augmented by one day for every ten myriameters (about twenty ancient leagues) between the town in which the promulgation shall have been made, and the chief place of each department.
  2. The law ordains for the future only; it has no retrospective operation.
  3. The laws of police and public security bind all the inhabitants of the territory.
    Immoveable property, although in the possession of foreigners, is governed by the French law.
    The laws relating to the condition and privileges of persons govern Frenchmen, although residing in a foreign country.
  4. The judge who shall refuse to determine under pretext of the silence, obscurity, or insufficiency of the law, shall be liable to be proceeded against as guilty of a refusal of justice.
  5. The judges are forbidden to pronounce, by way of general and legislative determination, on the causes submitted to them.
  6. Private agreements must not contravene the laws which concern public order and good morals.


Code Napoleon; or, The French Civil Code. Literally Translated from the Original and Official Edition, Published at Paris, in 1804. By a Barrister of the Inner Temple. Translation attributed to George Spence (cf. Cushing's Anonyms: A Dictionary of Revealed Authorship and Halkett & Laing's Dictionary of Anonymous and Pseudonymous English Literature and in the Dictionary of National Biography). London: Published by William Benning, Law Bookseller, 1827. xix, 627 pages.



Placed on the Napoleon Series 5/00