Journal of Civil Law Studies


Angelo Chianale


notarial act, public document, act under seal, deed, vestimentum, ius commune, contrelettres, témoins passent lettres, extrinsic, intrinsic


This article studies the contrast between civil and common law systems regarding the significance of the notarial act. According to conventional scholarship, in the former, civil procedure requires written evidence and the notarial act is the strongest kind of evidence. In the latter, however, civil procedure requires oral evidence and the notarial act has no specific relevance. This article examines the extent of these two main principles: a) in civil law systems the notarial act is full evidence of the extrinsic and a document can be challenged only with an action for falsity; and b) in common law systems the notarial act has no specific evidentiary effect. Examination of the operational rules of both systems shows a marked weakening of the traditional theoretical opposition due to an increasingly pragmatic approach in solving problems linked to notarial acts, which are nowadays the same everywhere. This change marks an inexorable abandon of the crystallization of the classical schemes and theories, which, over the past centuries, have considered common law solutions a separate world from the civil law legal tradition.

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