Introduction to Basic CambodianLaws—CambodianCivilLaws
2Before French Colonization (1863-1953), Cambodia was ruled by the Monarchic Regime.Every important law took its source from the King’s authority. In the interaction betweengrassroots, a number of so called “CP
” plays a very crucial role in the civil matter,especially.
After the collapse of Cambodia to French colonization in 1863, the influence of royal family over the reign of the country had faded, yet the Frenchcolonization took control over the Khmer nation resulting in the changes of legal system of Cambodia thereto. The dominant French government importedto Cambodia its Romano-Germanique (continental) law system. Significantly,a Napoleon-oriented first civil code of Cambodia was drafted and promulgatedbyroyal ordinance No. 17 of the King SISOWATH on February 25, 1920 titledas “Civil Code of Cambodia,”
hereinafter referred to as theoldCode.Notsurprisingly, this first Code was influencedby the Code de Napoléonof Franceand, indifferent fromother laws, was written in French language.Therefore, the Code was not familiar to ordinary Khmer people, for only ahandful of welleducated persons understood French.
The principle of “equality before the law” was, thus, not attained. No doubt, “CP
remainedthe first reference for ordinary Khmer people.
Seeing such a mess and in the objective of rehabilitating the popularity of Khmer literature, Eng Sot, a then officer of the Ministry of Justice, translatedand published the Khmer version of the Civil Code in 1967.
P” is a Khmer word. It means “Law”, if literally translated. “CP
P” as presented here refers to moralteaching or code of conducts mostly written in the forms of saying or poem. For more detail, see SAVAROS
POU, Guirlande de CPĀP’, Cedoreck (Centre de Documentation et Recherche de la Civilisation Khmère),
S POU, Guirlande de CPĀP’, Cedoreck, 1988.
This original title in French version is “Nouveau Code Civil,”
Marcel Clairon, NOTIONSESSENTIELLES DE
DROIT CIVIL KHMER
, 1959, at page 10
Formal education at that time was based on French language. However, only a handful of rich city youthshad opportunity to go to those schools. Yet, some middle-classed men went to get informal education inBuddhist pagodas.
See SAVAROS POU, Guirlande de CPĀ
P’, Cedoreck, 1988.
See Eng Sot, Study of every article of the Civil Code, 1967, in his forward.