The Sources of Law – Vatican City State

Bulletin No. 16 (period January 1, 2008 – May 31, 2009)

N. LXXI – Law on the sources of law .

1 October 2008


To proceed further in the systematic regulatory adaptation of the legal system of the Vatican City State, initiated with the fundamental law of November 26, 2000, of Our Motu Proprio and certain science, with the fullness of Our Sovereign authority, we have ordered and we order what follows , to be observed as the law of the State:

Article 1

(Main sources of law)

1. The Vatican legal system recognizes in the canonical order the first normative source and the first criterion of interpretative reference.

2. The fundamental law is the fundamental law and the laws promulgated for the Vatican City State by the Supreme Pontiff, the Pontifical Commission or other authorities to which he has conferred the exercise of legislative power.

3. The provisions concerning the laws also apply to the decrees, regulations and any other legal provisions legitimately issued.

4. The Vatican legal system conforms to the norms of general international law and those deriving from treaties and other agreements of which the Holy See is a part, except as prescribed in n. 1.

Art. 2

(Publication, entry into force and conservation)

1. The laws are published with the date and with the progressive Roman number for the duration of each pontificate.

2. The laws come into force on the seventh day following their publication, unless the laws themselves establish a different term.

3. The laws indicated in the art. 1 n. 2 are filed in the appropriate Archive of the Governorate and published in the special supplement of the Acta Apostolicae Sedis , except that in particular cases a different form of publication is prescribed in the same law.

Art. 3

(Italian law enactment)

1. In matters to which the sources indicated in art. 1, the laws and other normative acts issued in the Italian State are observed, supplementary and subject to transposition by the competent Vatican authority.

2. The transposition is disposed as long as the same are not contrary to the precepts of divine law, nor to the general principles of canon law, as well as to the norms of the Lateran Pacts and subsequent Agreements and always that, in relation to the existing state of affairs in Vatican City , are applicable therein.

Art. 4
(Civil law)

Under the reserves specified in art. 3, the Italian Civil Code of 16 March 1942 is observed with the laws that modified it until the entry into force of this law, subject to the following reservations:

a) Vatican citizenship is governed by specific Vatican law;

b) the ability to perform any juridical act, to acquire and dispose of the clerics, the members of the institutes of religious consecrated life and the societies of apostolic life, which are Vatican citizens, is regulated by canon law ;

c) marriage is governed exclusively by canon law;

d) the adoption is authorized by the Supreme Pontiff;

e) as regards ecclesiastical goods, the prescription is regulated by cann. 197-199 and 1268-1270 of the Codex iuris canonici , also observing the can. 76 § 2 of the same Codex;

f) donations and bequests for reasons of death in favor of pious causes are regulated by cann. 1299-1300; 1308-1310 of the same Codex ;

g) birth, marriage and death records are drafted in accordance with Vatican legislation;

h) the citizenship and registry records are kept at the Governorate;

i) employment relationships are governed by specific Vatican legislation;

l) the functions of notary are exercised by lawyers of the Holy See designated by the President of the Governorate. In the same way, even rotary or civil lawyers who have an organic relationship, or of collaboration by contract, with the Governorate may be designated for the exercise of notarial functions;

m) the functions of the mortgage collector, as a result of transcriptions and mortgage registrations, are exercised by the Directorate of Technical Services. The same Department also provides for the maintenance and updating of the land register.

Article 5
(Rules of civil procedure)

We observe the Vatican Code of Civil Procedure of 1 May 1946, with subsequent modifications, also for the simplification and abbreviation of the rite.

Art. 6
(Powers of the judge in civil matters)

When a civil dispute cannot be decided with reference to a norm, foreseen by the sources indicated in the previous articles, the judge decides keeping in mind the precepts of divine law and natural law, as well as the general principles of the Vatican legal system.

Art. 7

1. Until the penal system is newly defined, it is observed, under the reservations specified in art. 3, the Italian penal code implemented with the law of 7 June 1929, n. II, as amended and supplemented by Vatican laws.

2. The law provides for cases in which alternative penalties can be substituted for prison sentences and indicates their nature, given the educational function of the sentence.

3. The financial penalties expressed in Italian lira, converted into Euros pursuant to the law of 28 December 2001, n. CCCLXXI, are determined by administrative provision of the Cardinal President of the Governorate of the Vatican City State.

4. Administrative offenses and related sanctions are regulated by a specific Vatican law.

Art. 8
(Rules of criminal procedure)

Until a new procedure is adopted, it is observed, under the reserves specified in art. 3, the Italian Criminal Procedure Code implemented with the law of 7 June 1929, n. II, as amended and supplemented by Vatican laws.

Art. 9
(Powers of the judge in criminal matters)

If there is no criminal provision and a fact is committed that offends the principles of religion or morals, public order or the safety of persons or things, the judge may refer to the general principles of the law to impose fines up to Euro three thousand, or prison sentences of up to six months, applying, if necessary, the alternative sanctions referred to in the law of 14 December 1994, n. CCXXVII.

Art. 10
(Representation, Sponsorship and Oath in the Judgment)

1. Representation and patronage in the various courts are regulated by a specific law.

2. In judgments the oath of the parties, witnesses, experts or others must take the form observed before the ecclesiastical courts.

Art. 11
(School education)

1. Without prejudice to the specificity of the Vatican legal system, which is inspired by the teaching of the Magisterium of the Church with regard to primary parental responsibility, school education is compulsory, from the age of six to that of of eighteen completed.

2. The obligation is met with the attendance of legally recognized educational facilities, according to the legislation of the various States, unless the parents and guardians prove to be able to privately impart education at their own expense and with appropriate teaching tools.

3. Application procedures will be established by administrative provision.

Art. 12
(Administrative regulations)

1. Subject to specific Vatican legislation and under the reservations indicated in art. 3, are observed in the Vatican City:

a) the legislation of the Italian State in force at the entry into force of this law, including the regulations and treaties ratified by Italy and the rules for the execution of the treaties themselves, concerning:

1) weights and measures of all kinds;

2) invention patents and factory trademarks and patents;

3) the railways;

4) the post office;

5) telecommunications and related services, both on fixed and mobile networks, in their various components;

6) the transmission of electricity;

7) aviation;

8) cars and their circulation;

9) the defense against infectious and contagious diseases.

b) the laws of the Italian State, with the relative general and special regulations, and with the regulations of the Lazio Region, of the Province and of the Municipality of Rome, concerning the building and urban police and hygiene and public health.

2. In case of need dictated by public utility, for the acquisition to the State of private goods, the temporary use of the same, the performance of works and services, provides the President of the Governorate with motivated decree, establishing the relative compensation.

3. By State authority provided for in the laws and regulations referred to in this article is meant the President of the Governorate, unless expressly delegated by the same.

Art. 13
(Repeal and entry into force)

This law on the sources of law fully replaces the law on the sources of the law of 7 June 1929, n. II.

It will enter into force on 1 January 2009.

We command that the original of the present law, bearing the seal of the State, be deposited in the Archive of the laws of the State of Vatican City, and that the corresponding text be published in the supplement of the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, sending to anyone who is responsible to observe it to make her observe.

Given by Our Vatican Apostolic Palace on October 1st 2008, year IV of Our Pontificate.




Categories: CIVIL, Vatican City State

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