The Further Development of the Swiss Civil Code: Independence and Outside Influences Die Fortentwicklung des schweizerischen ZGB: Eigenständigkeit und Fremdeinflüsse

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Abstract:

The attempt by those who devise laws to maintain independence and resist outside influences within a community increasingly linked internationally and in terms of information is futile. Depending on what “level” it occurs at, “autochthonic” legislation is shaped by various influences. Even the Swiss Civil Code in its original version was the result of a comparative legal analysis of the cantonal laws with their various influences. Subsequent developments have affected the more practical exigencies of local areas (owning one's apartment as a way of promoting home ownership and efficient land use) as well as ethical human issues (legal-medical references relevant to the development of the sciences). Truly new structures and themes (e.g. philanthropy, elder law) are inevitably present as themes of both international and national discussions, but are not without their problems when integrated into the local “body of law”. This is because it is a challenging task to reconcile these with existing laws (e.g. in respect of social and taxation law). There is now an increased “availability” of “law” and an increased awareness of the necessity and opportunity for planning in respect of legal relations – a positive development that does, however, call for care in order not to make it too easy to “plan legal transactions by exploiting gaps in coordination”. Other domains of “law” are – despite their changed economic, social and biographical parameters – firmly rooted in tradition; they signify and possess (above all in a referendum democracy) an emotional stability (family and estate law) that accounts for part of the acceptance of the legal system. An individualization (and with it a differentiation) of the legal system rather than resort to rigid (not merely familiar and family) structures, is, however, a trend that was led by Eugen Huber and one that will be continued (nationally and internationally) in the referendum-democratic context for various domains of the Swiss Civil Code. This, however, will no doubt happen over a period of time based more upon autonomous anticipation of – or catching up with – international developments than through impulses in terms of uniform law.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1628/003372508786013278

Publication date: October 1, 2008

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