Civil Recodification in an Anglophone Mixed Jurisdiction: A Bricoleur’s Playbook

in European Journal of Comparative Law and Governance
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The obligations titles of the Louisiana Civil Code have long figured among its most mysterious provisions. The titles have interested law students bent upon their mastery, an essential for successful civil practice. Having learned them, lawyers were reluctant to revise them, even though many of the rules had become outdated. The Civil Code’s revision program proceeded in fits and starts until the mid 1970s. At that time a new property revision encouraged a comprehensive reform of the obligations titles. From 1977-1984, the author served as a deputy reporter for the obligations revision. That post offered an enviable perch from which to witness the debates and drafting efforts that informed the obligations revision of 1984. As a close associate of the late Saul Litvinoff, the principal reporter for the revision, the author came to see in modern foreign and United States materials potential gap fillers and sources of solutions not solved by the obligations titles themselves. The author concludes that the resulting revision, while preserving the traditional mix of French and Spanish doctrine, now discloses an eclectic blend of American, continental and Argentine influences. This paper considers the new gap filling materials in light of particular needs confronted by the bench and bar in the legislation and one hundred fifty years of case law. To dispel some of the mystery surrounding the revision of the obligations titles, the paper also reflects upon political dynamics among academics, practitioners, judges and legislators, and issues likely to arise in evaluating the success or failure of the revision.

  • 20)

    La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 1921 (2012). For a sketch of restitutionary relief within a hierarchy of remedies see 6 La. Civ. L. Treatise Law of Obligations §16.3 (2d ed. 2011). For links between detrimental reliance and restitutionary relief see Herman Detrimental Reliance in Louisiana Lawsupra note 10.

  • 30)

    La. Civ. Code art. 1757 (2) (1870).

  • 31)

    Cód. Civ. art. 549 (1871).

  • 32)

    La. Civ. Code art. 1759 (1870).

  • 33)

    Cód. Civ. art. 550 (1871).

  • 34)

    La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 1761 (2012) (emphasis added).

  • 36)

    La. Civ. Code art. 1759 (1870).

  • 46)

    La. Civ. Code art. 2166 (1870) (emphasis added).

  • 47)

    La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 1868 (2012) (emphasis added).

  • 49)

    Cód. Civ. art. 812 (1871).

  • 51)

    C.C. art. 1193 (1942) available at

  • 53)

    La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 1869 (2012).

  • 56)

    La. Civ. Code art. 2163 (1870).

  • 58)

    La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 1869 (2012).

  • 61)

    Cód. Civ. art. 792 (1871).

  • 65)

    La. Civ. Code art. 1990 (1870): In case the debtor refuse or neglect to accept an inheritance to the prejudice of his creditors they may accept the same and exercise all his rights in the manner provided for in the title of successions and they are authorized [to] … exercise all of the rights existing in favor of the debtor for recovering possession of the property to which he is entitled … to make the same available to the payment of their debts.

  • 72)

    11 U.S.C. § 548 (ii) (1) (2005) (discussing criteria for setting aside debtor’s transfer; e.g. if fraud was actual or constructive; the transfer was made for inadequate consideration especially if debtor was insolvent at time of transfer; or the transfer had made him insolvent; or the debtor was engaged in a business with unreasonably small capital or the debtor intended to incur debts that would be beyond its ability to repay). See Westlaw database: Fr-Transfers 4:14.

  • 73)

    La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 2036 (2012).

  • 75)

    La. Civ. Code art. 1985 (1870).

  • 79)

    La. Civ. Code. Ann. art. 2044 (2012).

  • 81)

    Cód. Civ. art. 998 (1871).

  • 83)

    Cód. Civ. art. 1003 (1871).

  • 85)

    La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 1771 (2012).

  • 86)

    La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 1783 (2012).

  • 89)

     See U.C.C. § 2-609 (2012) stating that: A contract for sale imposes an obligation on each party that the other’s expectation of receiving due performance will not be impaired. When reasonable grounds for insecurity arise with respect to the performance of either party the other may in writing demand adequate assurance of due performance and until he receives such assurance may if commercially reasonable suspend any performance for which he has not already received the agreed return.

  • 102)

    La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 2464 (2012).

  • 103)

    La. Civ. Code art. 2444 (1870).

  • 104)

    La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 2444 (2012).

  • 110)

    La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 1914 (2012); id. art. 2464.

  • 116)

    La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 2025 (2012).

  • 123)

    La. Civ. Code art. 2239 (1870); La Civ. Code Ann. art. 2028 (2012).

  • 124)

    La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 2025cmt. c (2012).

  • 125)

    Cód. Civ. art. 989 (1871).

  • 130)

    La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 1967 (2012) (discussing detrimental reliance).

  • 140)

    U.C.C. § 2-207 (2012).

  • 147)

    U.C.C. § 1-103 (2012).

  • 148)

    La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 2602 (2012) (emphasis added).

  • 154)

    La. Code Civ. Proc. art. 1005 (2012) (discussing affirmative defenses).

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