Contract Law in East Central Europe | Emőd Veress (editor)

Emőd Veress: “The geographic area which forms the subject of our analysis did not yet present the variety of states in existence today at the beginning of the 19th century. East Central Europe was ruled in 1815 by the Kingdom of Prussia, the Empire of Austria, the Russian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. The codification of contract law emerged via the adoption of civil codes, which regulated rules on general and specific contracts such as sale, lease, mandate, etc. among other important issues. The codification process started in the present-day territories of Croatia, Slovenia, and Czechia, which formed parts of the Habsburg Empire. the Austrian Civil Code should have been in force in these territories in 1812. However, parts of Croatia and Slovenia were occupied at the time by the French, under the short-lived designation of the French Illyrian provinces (1809–1814). During this period, the first French governor, Auguste de Marmont introduced the French Civil Code. Nonetheless, for all intents and purposes, the Austrian Civil Code was in force from 1812 in these territories until 1946 (in the case of Croatia and Slovenia) and 1950 (in the case of the Czech Republic). The first adaptations of western civil codes were adopted in Walachia and Moldova (which were still under Turkish rule) in the second decade of the 19th century. In Moldova in 1817, prince Calimach promulgated the eponymous code of law (Codul Calimach or Codica Țivilă a Moldovei), a civil code in Greek. The Calimach Code was translated into Romanian in 1833. The code followed Byzantine traditions, but the direct influence of the Austrian Civil Code of 1811 and the French Civil Code of 1804 was also evident. The strong Austrian influence can be explained by the fact that Christian Flechtenmacher (1785–1843), a Saxon from Brașov who had studied in Vienna, played a major role in the drafting of the code, alongside Anania Cuzanos and Andronache Donici. In his work, Flechtenmacher often referred to the works of Franz von Zeiler, a leading figure in Austrian codification. Flechtenmacher was invited to become a lawyer by Prince Calimach and remained in Moldavia for the rest of his life, later receiving the title of boyar. He departed from the Byzantine tradition and marked a rapprochement with the West. This code did not propose a universal synthesis of laws but concentrated exclusively on matters of civil law. It was structured in three parts: rules on persons, rules on things, and rules on both persons and things. In 1818, a code was adopted in Walachia at the initiative of the Phanariote Greek Prince Caragea under the name Condica lui Caragea (the Codex of Caragea). The aim of codification was in fact to strengthen legal certainty by unifying old rules and creating new ones. The Codex of Caragea covered civil law, criminal law, and procedural law at the same time i.e. it can be considered a traditional general code without any specialization. Its drafting was mainly the work of the logothete (chancellor-general) Nestor and Atanasie Hristopol, who despite having produced a Greek text of literary quality, could not replicate that same quality with the Romanian translation, partly because of the immaturity of the Romanian legal language.

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