Dominican Republic Law and Legal Information
Civil Law ~ Court System ~ Supreme Court ~ Government Structure
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The Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic Law: The Legal System and Courts
Peace Courts Courts of First Instance Supreme Court
Dominican Civil Law Legal System

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Civil Law Legal System & Courts 
The Dominican Republic
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Geography, Size    
Climate and Location Where is the Dominican  
Republic ~ How many  
People live there ~  
What is the country like?  

Money & Currency 
About the Dominican 
Peso & The Central 
Bank of the Dominican 

History and Culture    
Learn about Domincan  
History ~ Some facts and interesting things about 
the country's history ~ 
Did you know that 
Santo Domingo was 
the first European 
Settlement in the New 

Government & Politics   
Structure of the  
Government ~ The  
Legislature and other branches of the  

The Legal System &    
Dominican Courts 
A review of the nation's 
legal and courts system 

The Economy of    
The Dominican    
Information about the 
economy ~ Industries 
and growth sectors 

Trade, Imports, Exports and Duty    
A quick reference guide 
regarding Imports & Exports information 

About Free Zone    
Some general information about setting up operations in one of the duty free trade or manufacturing zones 

The Regions, Cities and Towns   
A listing of the regions, cities and different towns in the country  

The Dominican Legal System, for the most part, is derived from laws or statues known as Napoleonic code, which were introduced to the country during the period from 1822 to 1844, when Haiti maintained political control over the entire island of Hispanola (following the revolt and freedom from spain in 1821).  To be sure, the influence of French government and ideals goes deeper than just this period. France actually controlled the present day Dominican Republic during different periods of it's history, so it is not so unusual to find this Spanish speaking country with a legal system based upon the French model. 

The legal system then is that of Civil Law and not common law.  For a generalized comparison, this means that judges hear and decide cases, not juries. The courts are comprised  of the following: 

The Peace Courts ~ which really can be called a sort of generalized civil court, designed to hear small cases and those cases of a minor nature.  The cases heard in a peace court are presented in front of a judge, who has the responsibility of hearing the case and rendering a verdict.  
For the most part, since each district has it's own peace court, we can say that this is the first level court to hear local matters and disputes. 

The Courts of First Instance ~ Like the peace courts, there is only one judge assigned to hear and decide a case.  These courts are more specialized than the peace courts and are broken down into chambers according to the nature of the case being heard.  As an example, there may be separate chambers for civil matters, criminal matters and commercial matters.  To highlight the difference between this and the peace courts; a dispute with your neighbor over his dog tearing up your garden will be heard by a peace court.  A dispute over legal land title or a more serious criminal matter would go to a court of first instance. 

The Appeals Courts ~ Consisting of a five judge panel, the appeals courts have the responsibility to hear cases or verdicts previously rendered by a court of first instance.  In simpler terms, if you disagree with the judgement presented by a judge in the court of first instance, you may appeal your case to the appeals courts.  This system is quite different than the American System, in that there is a panel of five judges who must collectively render a decision on a case and decide if the judge in the courts of first instance was correct or not in his decision. 

The Supreme Court of Justice ~ Consisting of a 16 judge panel, the supreme court has the responsibility to hear cases decided upon in other courts.  The supreme court however can only review a case whereby the interpretation of the law is in question. 

This Information has been prepared and compiled by Mr. John Schroder.  Mr. Schroder maintains an office in Santo Domingo and in Panama.  His firm provides assistance with 
company incorporations in the Dominican Republic, Offshore incorporations in other tax haven jurisdictions, Residency in the Dominican Republic and Panama, Assistance with Banking and Investments, Real Estate matters and company representation. To contact his firm, please click below: 

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