Lesson 10 – Civil Code Terminology
Introduction and Objectives of the Lesson
The Civil Code governs proprietary relations of natural persons and legal persons, proprietary relations between these persons and the state, and relations related to the protection of personality. At the same time, it is an invaluable source of legal terminology. That is why this lesson takes a closer look at some of its provisions.
We will discuss legal capacity and legal acts and then move straight to some Civil Code contracts. Our foundation of contract-related vocabulary from other lessons will now help us to go further. Besides contracts, you will also read definitions of some typical Civil Law terms and their English equivalents.
To conclude with, we have added a preview of some Legal Latin words that may be seen in English contracts. And in order not to sound dry and boring, your language can be enriched by some Legal English idioms. Enjoy the last lesson of this course!
Civil Law Relations
A. Natural Persons
Natural persons are participants in civil law relations, which means they acquire rights and incur duties. The capacity of a natural person to have rights and duties arises at birth. This should be distinguished from legal capacity, which is defined as the power provided under law to a natural person to enter into binding contracts, and to sue and be sued in its own name. Legal capacity arises in full extent upon reaching the age of 18. Minors have legal capacity only to a certain extent, depending on their individual maturity and capability of understanding a particular situation. Natural persons without legal capacity have to be represented. Minors are represented by a statutory representative and adults lacking legal capacity (e.g. due to mental illness) are represented by a guardian appointed by the court. A statutory representative should be distinguished from a legal representative. A statutory representative is usually a parent and a legal representative is a legal professional (typically an attorney) who acts on behalf of a person before a court or other authorities.
B. Legal Persons
The Civil Code stipulates a general framework of foundation, existence and winding up of legal persons. Legal persons are corporations (i.e. associations of natural and legal persons), foundations (i.e. property associations), institutes, self-governing territorial units and other entities stipulated by law. Legal persons are represented by the persons authorised to do so in terms of the founding documents. The Civil Code contains stipulation about associations (the so-called free association) that are not legal entities. These are associations of persons who conclude an association agreement and seek common purpose. Associations are different from civil associations, which are legal entities.
C. Legal Acts
Legal act is a manifestation of will aiming at the creation, change, or extinction of rights or duties. A person can manifest their will by an act or an omission of an act. A legal act can be concluded by performance, orally or in writing. As final provisions in contracts often declare, a legal act shall be made freely and seriously, clearly and comprehensibly, otherwise it is invalid. Certain legal acts can be contestable (voidable) and may end up being unenforceable upon a court decision. These are the acts of a debtor that are seeking to harm the creditor.
Civil Code Contracts
Lesson 2 was dedicated to contracts and contractual types, we therefore assume that you are familiar with the basic terminology related to contractual parties and contracts in general. We can go further and introduce some of the contracts stipulated in the Civil Code and their substantial features.
A. Purchase Agreement
The seller sells to the buyer and is obliged to hand over the subject of purchase and transfer the title to the buyer. Title to an object means the ownership of the object. The parties may agree on retention of title until a certain condition is met. The buyer shall take over the subject of purchase and pay the agreed purchase price. Any defects in the subject of purchase entitle the buyer to a repair, discount, and in case of material defects even withdrawal from the contract. Consumer purchase agreements related to sale of goods in shops grant additional rights to the buyer.
B. Contract for Work
The contractor promises to perform some work for the customer at the contractors own risk and for an agreed price. The contractor shall execute the work duly and…