Civil law, also known as private law, is a branch of law that regulates the relationships between individuals and legal entities. In Costa Rica, the Civil Code is the primary source of law for civil matters. The Civil Code of Costa Rica is a comprehensive set of laws that covers a wide range of topics, including contracts, property, torts, obligations, and succession.
Contract law is one of the main areas of civil law in Costa Rica. The Civil Code regulates the formation, execution, and termination of contracts and the rights and obligations of the parties involved. Under Costa Rican law, contracts must be entered into voluntarily and in good faith and executed in accordance with their terms.
There are two main types of civil responsibility in Costa Rican law: Contractual and extra-contractual responsibility. Contractual responsibility stems from a contract. Therefore, breaches of contract and even contract annulments can generate this type of responsibility.
Extra contractual responsibility arises by vulneration to the principle of “do no harm to others,” or “neminen laedere” in Latin. Torts, also known as civil wrongs, are a type of civil law regulating individuals’ and organizations’ liability for harm caused to others. In Costa Rica, torts are governed by the Civil Code, article 1045. This is the realm of extra-contractual responsibility.
Actions that are committed with intent, or “dolus malus” can generate civil responsibility, if there is a violation of other people´s rights. These are intentional torts, that occur when an individual or organization intentionally causes harm to another person. For example, if someone intentionally hits another person with a car, besides penal responsibility, they may be liable for civil litigation for damages caused. One act, can infringe several branches of the law, all at once.
Civil Fault Torts:
This is also true, for actions that are done with civil fault or “culpa.” The main types of torts in Costa Rica are negligence, imprudence, and incompetence. Negligence occurs when an individual or organization fails to exercise reasonable care and causes harm to another person. For example, suppose a driver causes a car accident because they didn´t provide the proper care for the vehicle driven. This is a negligent act that causes civil responsibility. Or say the accident was caused because the driver was distracted or driving under the influence. This is imprudence. Lastly, say the accident is caused because the person didn´t learn to drive properly, then this is incompetence. In that case, they may be liable for the damages caused to the other driver and passengers.
Strict liability torts:
Defamation is also a form of tort in Costa Rica; it refers to the act of making false statements that harm the reputation of another person. This can include written statements, such as in a newspaper or online, or verbal statements, such as in a radio or television interview. Another area of tort law in Costa Rica is product liability. This type of tort holds manufacturers, distributors, and sellers liable for harm caused by defective products. For example, if a defective product injures a consumer, the manufacturer may be responsible for the damages caused.
Costa Rica also has specific laws regulating torts in certain areas, such as consumer protection and environmental regulations. Consumer protection law governs companies’ liability for false advertising and other deceptive practices, while ecological law holds individuals and organizations liable for harm caused to the environment. In Costa Rica, torts are usually resolved through the court system, and individuals or organizations found liable for torts may be required to pay damages to the injured party.
In summary, torts in Costa Rica are a type of civil law regulating individuals’ and organizations’ liability for harm caused to others. Negligence, intentional acts, defamation, and product liability can cause torts. Costa Rica also has laws regulating torts in certain areas, such as consumer protection and environmental law. It’s always recommended to seek legal advice if you believe you have been a victim of a tort or if you are facing a tort lawsuit.
Another important area of civil law in Costa Rica is property law. The Civil Code regulates the acquisition, ownership, and transfer of property, as well as the rights and obligations of property owners. Costa Rica’s property law establishes that the property is registered at the Public Registry of Property, and any transaction related to the property must also be registered there. Property law in Costa Rica regulates the acquisition, ownership, and transfer of property, as well as the rights and obligations of property owners. This area of law is governed by the Civil Code and the Public Registry Law, which establishes the rules for registering and transferring property in Costa Rica.
One of the key features of property law in Costa Rica is the requirement for all properties to be registered at the Public Registry of Property. This government office is responsible for maintaining records of all real estate transactions and ownership in the country. Therefore, any transaction related to a property, such as a sale or a mortgage, must be registered with the Public Registry to be legally valid. Another important aspect of property law in Costa Rica is the concept of usufruct, which gives the right to use and enjoy a property. At the same time, it remains the property of another person. This can be useful when a property owner wants to allow someone else to use their property for a specific period, such as a tenant or a family member.
Foreigners are allowed to purchase property in Costa Rica, but some restrictions and regulations apply. For example, foreigners cannot buy property within 50 kilometers of the border or 200 meters of the coast. Property law in Costa Rica also covers issues related to property disputes, such as boundary disputes, adverse possession, and easements. These disputes can be resolved through the court system, and I recommend you seek legal advice if you are involved in a property dispute.
In summary, property law in Costa Rica regulates the acquisition, ownership, and transfer of property and establishes the rules for registering and transferring property in the country. It also provides for the rights and obligations of property owners, and environmental laws influence it. Therefore, seeking legal advice when buying, selling, or developing property in Costa Rica is vital to ensure compliance with all the laws and regulations.
Succession law is also regulated by the Civil Code, which covers distributing a deceased person’s property and assets among their heirs. The Civil Code also establishes the rules for drafting and executing wills in Costa Rica. Overall, the Civil Code of Costa Rica provides a comprehensive framework for regulating the relationships between individuals and legal entities in the country, covering a wide range of civil law matters. Contract law, property law, civil obligations, torts, and civil responsibility, are many aspects covered by civil law in Costa Rica. However, it’s worth noting that Civil law can be complex and that it’s always best to seek the advice of a lawyer or a notary public if you have any doubts or need help with a specific matter.