Mistranslations (?) of vecindad

ExpressingCivil LawConcepts

vecindad; vecindad civil

In legal translations I have seen vecindad translated simply as “neighborhood” and vecindad civil común as “common legal residence.” But both of these renderings fail to recognize the specific meaning that vecindad has in the context of Spanish civil law. Vecindad civil denotes one’s legal regional domicile, the geographic area in Spain in which a person habitually resides and which determines whether he is subject to the Civil Code (Derecho civil común, the “common law” of Spain) or to local law (Derecho civil foral o especial). Separate systems of local civil law exist principally in the Basque Country and Navarre, as well as in Catalonia, Aragon, the Balearic Islands and Galicia, affecting, among others, family and inheritance law (Derecho de familia y sucesiones) and marital property systems (régimen económico matrimonial).

Thus, persons having vecindad civil común are subject to the provisions of the Civil Code (Código Civil), while those having vecindad civil foral o especial are governed by local law. In that regard, when acquiring Spanish nationality, new citizens must state whether they choose to be governed by the Civil Code (acogerse a la vecindad civil común) or by local law. And perhaps it should be noted that, although often used interchangeably, strictly speaking the term Derecho foral applies solely to the local law of the Basque Country and Navarre, while the local law in force in Catalonia, Aragon, the Balearic Islands and Galicia is more accurately referred to as Derecho especial.

 

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