Nature of Japanese legal system




Nature of Japanese legal system

Japan has a hybrid legal system mixed of civil and common law.

On the one hand, Japan is classified as a civil law legal system based on codified law. The Constitution and the five major Codes (civil, civil procedure, criminal, criminal procedure and commercial) together form the roppo (six codes). Additionally, there are other regulations and separate legislation. In commercial law and taxation, the case law  is of fundamental importance. Many regulations in the fields of commercial regulatory law are influenced by common law concepts and rules prevailing patterns of regulation in EU.

Sources of law:

  • The Constitution
  • The Act of the Diet
  • The Orders (Meirei)
  • The Local Ordinances (Jorei)
  • The Treaties (Joyaku)
  • The Rules of Court (Saibansho Kisoku)
  • The Custom (Kanshu)
  • The Judicial Precedens (Hanrei)
  • The Scholary Opinions (Gakusetsu)

Before preparing a contract every entrepreneur has to consider the differences of legal culture between the two countries in understanding the provisions of the agreement.

The Japanese Civil Code scheme for forming a contract in Japan is similar to other civil jurisdictions.

Japanese law provides three ways of forming a contract:

  • Offer and acceptance
  • Cross offer; and
  • Acceptance by performance.

Although the Japanese Civil Code indicates types of contracts, thanks to the rule called “freedom of contract” parties could enter into any type of contract they wish as long as the activity is not contrary to the law .



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