oa Fundamina : A Journal of Legal History - The Serbian Civil Code - the fourth codification in Europe

Special issue 2
  • ISSN : 1021-545X
  • E-ISSN: 2411-7870



The 165th anniversary of the adoption of the Serbian Civil Code was in 2009. Some of its provisions, such as those concerning bequests, still have the force of positive law, which illustrates its continued relevance. The Serbian Civil Code was adopted in 1844, and was the fourth civil code in Europe after those of France, Austria and Holland. It was modelled on the Austrian Civil Code and inducted Serbia into the German legal sphere. Roman law, with its traditions and reception, had from the outset been a fundamental component of Serbian law, which was founded on the Roman-Byzantine legal tradition. Through Saint Sava's , written in 1219, it became the positive law of Serbia. Later, upon the adoption of Dusan's Code in 1349, the tradition of Roman-Byzantine law continued, although the influence of customary law and Orthodox Canon law cannot be discounted. In the nineteenth century, Serbia undertook civil codification much earlier than many more developed countries. In the conflict between customs and more progressive ideas in the domain of family law and the law of succession, customary law prevailed. Nevertheless, with the introduction of private property, all traces of feudalism disappeared from Serbia, which cannot be said of many other states at that time. The codification paved the way for the more rapid development of finance and trade relations and consequently also influenced other spheres of life. Serbia built its relations with other countries quickly and successfully.

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