Expressing Civil Law Concepts in Common Law Terms: frutos ; disfrute

The property law section of the Spanish Civil Code contains multiple references to frutos, and it is obvious that the literal rendering “fruits” is probably not the most natural sounding in English (although this is indeed the term used in the Civil Code of Louisiana). General references to frutos may often be translated simply as “proceeds.” As an example, derecho del acreedor a los frutos de la cosa might be rendered as “creditor’s right to proceeds from the property.” Or, with respect to the obligation to make restitution after a contract is rescinded, restitución recíproca de las cosas que fueron objeto del contrato con sus frutos y el precio con sus intereses could be translated as “mutual restitution of the goods/property that were the subject-matter of the contract with any proceeds therefrom, and the price paid plus interest.”

A distinction is traditionally made between frutos naturales, frutos industriales and frutos civiles. Frutos naturales are naturally-occuring proceeds from property, such as timber and animal offspring. Frutos industriales are labor-produced proceeds from property, such as cultivated crops. And frutos civiles denotes income from property, such as rent, interest or dividends. These three concepts aren’t easily rendered with one-word terms, although frutos naturales may be described (as above) as “natural proceeds from property,”  frutos industriales may be translated as “cultivated crops” and frutos civiles perhaps as “revenue from property.”

Regarding the term disfrute, expressions such as derecho real de goce and derecho real de disfrute are generally treated as synonymous and translated as “right to the enjoyment of property.” But it should be noted that, strictly speaking, disfrute refers specifically to enjoyment of the proceeds (frutos) of property, el derecho de hacer suyo los frutos que la cosa produzca.

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