Our dual-qualified lawyers advise regularly on matters pertaining to different jurisdictions. Our expertise spans from Spanish Property Law to Italian Probate Law, from French Tax Law to English Company Law and beyond.
England, among about 80 other countries around the world, belongs to the countries with a Common law system. France, Italy, and Spain are based upon a codified system of laws, called Civil law system. There are now about 150 Civil law jurisdictions around the world.
Common law systems are less structured and more organic in nature. Legislative statutes tend not to be as comprehensive as in civil law countries, so courts play an important role in developing the law. Thus, case law forms a major source of law, and, as a result, judges are more active in shaping the legal landscape. Further, common law judges act more as mediators than as investigators, presiding over an adversarial system where the parties in dispute argue their case.
Many practical differences exist between these two legal systems. For instance, the principle of trust plays an important part in the English property conveyancing process where trustees hold the legal estate in a joint tenancy on behalf of the beneficiaries. In contrast, trusts are hardly recognised in countries with a Civil Law system and a property purchase will be in most cases structured as the equivalent of a tenancy in common, without separation between legal and beneficial owners. Furthermore and as further example, in Civil Law countries there is no concept of an executor who has been entrusted under a Will to distribute the assets of the estate and pay the debts. Instead, in Civil Law countries the assets of the deceased's estate devolve on the heirs or beneficiaries who are responsible for the payment of the debts and taxes.
With over 10 years’ experience in dealing with French, Italian, Spanish, and English legal matters, our bilingual team will give you plain language advice and ensure that your cross border affairs are dealt quickly and cost efficiently.
Please follow the links to the laws of the various countries to discover more.