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The Mexican Legal System
CONTENT 1. The Mexican legal system 2. Federal Laws 3. Sources of Law 4.Government Agencies 5.Civil Law Tradition

© 2013 Mario González-Hernández

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The Mexican Legal System
Reading: The Mexican Legal System
“The constitution of 1917, proclaimed on February 5, 1917, is considered by many to be one of the most radical and comprehensive constitutions in modern political history. Although its social content gave it the title of the first modern socialist constitution--it preceded the constitution of the former Soviet Union--the Mexican document replicates many liberal principles and concepts of the constitution of the United States. The liberal concepts include
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federalism, separation of powers, and a bill of rights. In addition to reaffirming the liberal principles of the nineteenth-century documents, the 1917 constitution adds a strong nationalist proclamation, asserting Mexico's control over its natural resources. It also recognizes social and labor rights, separation of church and state, and universal male suffrage. Reflecting the varied social backgrounds and political philosophies of its framers, the constitution of 1917 includes various contradictory provisions, endorsing within the same text socialism, capitalism, liberal democracy, authoritarian
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Module 1- The Mexican Legal System- Lesson 1. Reading

corporatism, and a host of unimplemented provisions for specific social reforms. Formally, the constitution prescribes a federal republic consisting of thirty-one states and a federal district. The federal government is divided into executive , legislative , and judicial branches, but these branches do not have comparable powers. Only the president may promulgate a law, by signing it and ordering its publication. The executive can veto bills passed by the legislature, either in whole or by item, and although a veto may be overridden, there is no constitutional way in which the president may be forced to sign a bill into law. In addition, executive-sponsored bills submitted to the Congress take precedence over other business, and the
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constitution gives the president broad authority to issue administrative basic rules. These rules have the same legal force as laws and are the source of most statutory regulations. The constitution treats many matters of public policy explicitly. For example, before being amended in 1992, Article 27 placed stringent restrictions on the ownership of property by foreigners and the Roman Catholic Church and declared national ownership of the country's natural resources. Religious groups were excluded from any kind of political activity and were not allowed to participate in public education, conduct services outside churches, or wear clerical dress in public. In its original form, Article 27 also granted the
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government broad powers to expropriate private property in the public interest and to redistribute land. The constitution prescribes an activist state that will ensure national autonomy and social justice. Thus, in addition to a charter of individual rights, the constitution provides for a number of social rights for workers and peasants and their organizations. In Article 123, the constitution provides what has been described as "the most advanced labor code in the world at its time." It guarantees the right to organize, as well as an eight-hour workday, and provides for the protection of women and minors in the workplace. It mandates that the minimum wage "should be sufficient to satisfy the normal necessities of life of the worker," and establishes the principle of equal pay for
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equal work regardless of gender, race, or ethnicity. In addition, Article 123 clarifies the right to strike. Strikes are legal when their purpose is to "establish equilibrium between the diverse factors of production, harmonizing the rights of labor with those of capital." The article further establishes arbitration and conciliation boards made up of equal numbers of management, labor representatives, and one government representative. Although many of these provisions were not implemented until 1931, Article 123 mandates the incorporation of organized labor into the formal political process and serves as a basis for labor's claim to a preeminent status in national politics.”
Source: http://countrystudies.us/mexico/81.htm

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Federal Laws
“Any legislative enactments by the Federal Congress published as laws, acts and regulations fall under the category of federal statutes. Article 73 of the Federal Constitution enumerates the ample powers of the Federal Congress, including its exclusive authority to enact federal legislation. From the viewpoint of their legal importance, federal statutes are divided into two categories: a) Regulatory Acts and b) Ordinary laws. Regulatory laws are those that develop, expand and detail the language of certain provisions of the Federal Constitution -such as those addressing natural resources (oil, hydrocarbons and natural gas, minerals, waters and lakes), marine spaces, fishing,
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"Amparo" protections, constitutional controversies, etc.- in order to establish the legal bases for their effective implementation. For example, the Regulatory Act of paragraph VI of Article 76 of the Constitution to Resolve Political Questions within a Given State, the Regulatory Act of Article 27 of the Constitution on Oil Matters, etc. Ordinary laws are the statutes enacted by the Federal Congress that do not derive or emanate from a specific constitutional provision but legislate on a specific subject matter under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal Congress, such as the Customs Act; Foreign Trade Act; Roads, Bridges and Autotransportation Act; Nationality Act; Ports Act, etc.”
Excerpt from publication by Jaime A. Vargas
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Some of the most important Federal Laws are: • Federal Civil Code • Federal Code of Civil Procedure • Penal Code • Federal Code of Penal Procedure • Code of Commerce • Federal Labor Law

force of law and, as such, are not legally binding.
Excerpt from publication by Jaime A. Vargas

a.Custom
Rules, principles, or norms formed through a gradual but uniform passage of time are recognized as a custom or habitual practice in a given place and time. Unlike international law, where the formation of customary legal rules and principles are considered to be legally binding to States based on the notion of Opinio juris sive necessitatis , at the domestic level, the rules, principles, or norms created through custom are not legally binding per se.
Excerpt from publication by Jaime A. Vargas

Other Sources of Law
a. Doctrine
Legal doctrine is formed by the ideas, interpretations, written opinions, and general commentaries advanced by legal scholars through their writings, law courses, or oral presentations relative to any Mexican law issues or questions. The general legal body of
Photo: 2008 (c) By Gobierno Federal contributions do not carry the these scholarly

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b. General Principles of Law
Ancient Roman and Medieval law principles tend to be cited by legal specialists as general principles of law. In Mexico, the general principles of law -expressly cited by Article 14 of the Federal Constitution, have not been expressly enunciated, neither by a statute nor by a code. A Circuit Collegiate Court sentenced, in 1997, that "the general principles of law are not applicable when there is an explicit legal text governing a specific legal situation," and another one asserted that, in labor law matters, said principles "are applicable... only in those cases not contemplated in the law, in the regulations, or when the case cannot be resolved based on custom or use."
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Government Agencies
Some of the most important agencies, in alphabetical order, are: • Bancomext, the Trade Commission of Mexico.
• Central Bank of Mexico • Chamber of Representatives • CFE, Federal Electricity Commission. • CFT, Federal Telecommunications Commission. • IFE, Federal Electoral Institute. • IMP, Mexican Petroleum Institute. • IMSS, Social Security Institute. • IMT, Mexican Institute of Transport. • INEGI, Institute of Geography & Statistics. • INSP, National Institute of Public Health. • NAFIN, Industrial Development Bank. • National Film Commission • Office of Indigenous People
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• PEMEX, Mexican Oil Agency. • PGR, Attorney General's Office. • Presidency . • SAGAR, Agriculture & Rural Development Ministry. • SCT, Transportation & Communications Ministry. • SECODEM, Administrative and Expenditure Development Ministry.

• SSA, Health & Assistance Ministry. • STPS, Labor Ministry. • Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation

Civil Law Tradition
“Mexico's legal system derives from the civil law tradition. This occurred as a result of Mexico's long association with Spain. It is important to be aware of some of the most important concepts of the civil law tradition in order to formulate research strategies in conducting research into Mexican law. The civil law tradition is the oldest and most widely used legal tradition in the world today.64 Its foundations were developed in the Italian universities of the Renaissance when Roman law was rediscovered. Modern-day civil law is based on Roman Law (Corpus Juris Civilis), canon Law (Roman Catholic Church), medieval

• SEDENA, Defense & Military Ministry. • SEDESOL, Social Development Ministry. • SEMARNAP, Environment, Natural Resources & Fisheries Ministry.

• SENER, Secretary of Energy. • Senate of Mexico • SEP, Public Education Ministry. • SEPOMEX, Postal Service of Mexico. • SG, Interior Ministry. • SHCP, Finance and Public Credit Ministry (Treasury). • SRE, Foreign Relations Ministry.
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common commercial law, secular natural law, secular positive law, and to a lesser degree custom law. The civil law tradition divides the law into two major areas of law: private law and public law. Private law concerns the legal relationships between individuals. Public law concerns the legal relationships between individuals and the state. The most important contributions of Roman Law, canon law, and medieval commercial law to the civil law tradition are found in the private law area. Roman law influenced "the law of persons, the family, inheritance, property, torts, unjust enrichment, and contracts."65 The influence of canon law is found mainly "in the area of family law and succession (both parts of the Roman Civil Law), criminal law and the law of procedures.
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Codes in the civil law tradition have been written through the years on the assumption that using a rational scholarly process, rules and laws can be formulated to apply to most all situations that may arise. As a result, codes tend to be very detailed and vast in size. The Mexican codes, like most Latin American codes, borrowed greatly from the European codes of the late 19th century.”
The above is an excerpt from the Introduction to The Mexican Legal System, 2d ed. (2000), by Francisco A. Avalos

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(c) 2008 Gobierno Federal
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