Civil Code 40 of 1951

Posted on | May 12, 2009

The Iraqi Civil Code was principally drafted by Abd al-Razzaq Al-Sanhūrī, a French-educated Egyptian jurist who was also the principal drafter of the Egyptian Civil Code of 1949. It replaced the 1877 Ottoman Majalla, the archetype for all codified Middle Eastern civil law.
In 1943, Al-Sanhūrī was invited to Iraq by the Iraqi government and asked to complete the Civil Code. Working as the chairman of a committee of Iraqi jurists, using the Egyptian Civil Code as a model, he completed a draft of what would become the modern Iraqi Civil Code. The Iraqi Civil Code was enacted on September 8, 1951 and became effective two years later on September 8, 1953.
The Iraqi Code is based on the French Code Civil. Although it incorporates Islamic elements, its overall structure and substance is principally based on continental civil law.
Sanhuri’s wasit (commentary) commentary on the Egyptian Civil Code (10 books in 12 large volumes, Cairo 1952–70) is the standard reference on civil law for all lawyers in the Arab world.
The Iraqi Civil Code is divided into a preliminary part and two main parts, each main part composed of two books. The preliminary part contains definitions and general principles that find application throughout the rest of the code. Part One of the Code and its two books address obligations in general and sub-elements of that area of law, such as contracts, torts, and unjust enrichment. Part Two and its two books address property, ownership, and real rights.

For further reading see Mallat, Introduction to Middle Eastern Law (Oxford, 2007) chapter 8