THE COSTA RICA CIVIL (NAPOLEONIC) LEGAL SYSTEM: In the U.S., Canada (except Quebec), and British Commonwealth countries, the Legal System is based on English Common Law, while in Latin America, as well as Continental Western Europe, the Legal System of the various countries is based on Civil (Napoleonic) Law. Although the legal subject matters are the same for each of the two different types of Legal Systems, the legal process is very different in effecting any particular legal outcome.
In the Civil Legal System, as exists in Costa Rica, the Notary Public occupies the most important role in the property purchasing process. All Notaries must first be a Lawyer, practice law for two years and obtain a Notary Degree, requiring an additional year of university training, prior to be able to practice as a Notary Public. Hence, all Notaries are Lawyers, but not all Lawyers are Notaries. This is very different from the English Common Law System, where the Notary Public is not necessarily a Lawyer and is charged only with the authentication of signatures and the certification of copies of documents.
The Notary Public, acting as an Officer of the State, is the only party able to draft and register in the National Registry, a Public Deed in what is known as a “Protocol Book”, issued by the Government, to effect the transfer of a Property Title. A Lawyer may undertake the legal due diligence required to determine the state of a property title, with respect to any mortgages, liens, etc. and may draft the initial Purchase Agreement entered into between the Purchaser and the Seller, setting-out the conditions of purchase, purchase price, closing date, and the like, but only a Notary may attend to the closing procedures. Title Companies do not exist in Costa Rica, with the Lawyer, or Notary, performing all of the similar functions in Costa Rica, with respect to Property Title Transfers.
The Notary Public is also the only party who can incorporate a company, transfer the title to a motor vehicle, draft and register a Will, or prepare and register any other document required to be registered in the National Registry.
Property purchasers in Costa Rica must be aware of these procedural differences in the Civil Legal System which exists and select their appropriate legal representative accordingly.
To contact Attorney Rick Philps about hiring him as your Costa Rican Attorney, please use the following information: Lic. Rick Philps – Attorney at Law, Petersen & Philps, San Jose, Costa Rica Tel: 506-2288-4381, Ext. 102; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.costaricacanadalaw.com