Iain Stewart, ‘Mors Codicis: End of the Age of Codification?’

What is meant by a legal “code”? The etymology, from Latin “codex,” can mislead – because the codex was a technological rather than a semantic innovation. The idea of a “code” as a rational and comprehensive statement of all the law or of an area of law has its paradigm in the French Code civil (Code Napoléon). But even the Code civil is now used both in digital form and with such extensive annotations and supplements, sometimes available only in a CD edition, that it has become less a “code” as ordinarily understood than a database. This development forms part of the overall move of published laws from print to databases that has led the French Conseil Supérieur de Codification to recommend that there be no new codes. Moreover, this forms part of the global move from print to digital publication – sometimes referred to as “death of the book”. The article explores this possible end to the “age of codification.” It also suggests that at least one common-law jurisdiction, Australia, which was never strongly committed to codification but is now advanced in use of legal databases, may actually have skipped the age of codification.

Stewart, Iain M., Mors Codicis: End of the Age of Codification? (April 23, 2012). (2012) 27 Tulane European & Civil Law Forum 17-47.

First posted 2013-01-13 09:32:53

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