Monday, September 5, 2016

Louisiana's Civil Code Finally Translated into French


This post was written by Matt Boles, a third-year law student at the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.  Mr. Boles is a research assistant to Dr. Moreteau and is Managing Editor of the Journal of Civil Law Studies.  Mr. Boles graduated from the University of Florida with a BS in Public Relations (summa cum laude) and a BA in Spanish (cum laude).

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Hearing the word “Louisiana” conjures up the flags with fleur-de-lis, a state named after French King Louis XIV, and a state that treats mardi gras as a holiday like no other. In terms of its legal characteristics, Louisiana is known as the sole state to use a civil code, with some people labeling it as the Napoleonic Code, given our French roots before the Louisiana Purchase in the early 19th century.

Despite the prevalence of the French language and culture, the 1870 Louisiana Code, the one that is still in effect today, was only published in English. This was a sharp contrast from its 1808 Digest and 1825 Code that were published in both languages with both being authoritative sources of the law. The Code was never subsequently translated from beginning to end, or at least not until now nearly 150 years after the Code’s promulgation.

The Center of Civil Law Studies at the Paul M. Hébert Law Center at Louisiana State University published the Louisiana Civil Code in its entirety in French in July of 2016, marking the first time the 1870 Code has been completely translated. Dr. Olivier P. Moréteau, the Director of the Center of Civil Law Studies and Russell B. Long Eminent Scholars Academic Chair, was the Project Director. Professors, legal scholars, and legal interns assisted on the project in a collaborative effort with organizations like the Center for French and Francophone Studies at Louisiana State University, the Louisiana State Law Institute, and the Université de Nantes.

Located online, users have the option of either viewing the Code just in French or reading the articles in English and French side-by-side. Although the translation lacks “official legal standing” and that “the English version controls,” the value of the work cannot be understated for legal comparativists.

To see the Louisiana Civil Code in French, click on the links below:

Code just in French:

Code in French and English side-by-side:

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