Mexico’s legal system
Mexico’s legal system is a civil law system that relies heavily on codified law. This is based on a fundamental legal principle embodied in the Mexican Constitution that provides that authorities, including courts, can only do what they are expressly authorized to perform by statute. Courts need to consult the pertinent provisions of the applicable codes, statutes and regulations in order to render a decision.
The principle of stare decisis is not applied in Mexico. However, under an express provision contained in a federal statute there are judicial decisions that are binding precedent. Such decisions are called jurisprudencia. For a judicial decision to qualify as jurisprudencia, the Mexican Supreme Court or a Federal Collegiate Appeals Court must render a decision in an Amparo trial in which it construes Mexican law in the same manner as it has in four prior consecutive decisions based on the same criterion.Jurisprudencia binds lower courts, including State courts and administrative courts. Jurisprudencia is also created when the Mexican Supreme Court resolves a conflict between contradicting or inconsistent decisions rendered by any of its Chambers, in which case it decides the conflict en banc, and also when it resolves a conflict between contradictory decisions rendered by Federal Collegiate Appeals Courts. All other decisions by the Mexican Supreme Court and the Federal Collegiate Appeals Courts are known as tesis and are only persuasive, absent a jurisprudencia decision to the contrary, on lower courts and state courts.
Mexico is a federation, and, as in the United States, each of the thirty one Mexican States and the Federal District has its own codes and laws with respect to matters not expressly declared as federal in nature by the Mexican Constitution. Thus, the laws in Mexico are either federal laws or state laws.
Each of the thirty one Mexican states and the Federal District has its own Civil Code. Real estate in Mexico is generally regulated by the Civil Codes of the various states and the Federal District. Virtually all of the state Civil Codes are based on the Civil Code for the Federal District and thus resemble each other but substantive differences do exist between them.
The hierarchical structure of laws of Mexico is in the following order: the supreme law is the Mexican Constitution, then federal statutes and international treaties, then federal regulations. All state laws are inferior to federal laws and following is their hierarchical order: state constitutions, state statutes, and state regulations.
If statutes do not provide clear provisions for a specific issue of law we then turn to jurisprudencia. Jurisprudencia fills any lacunae of law and overall provides an organized interpretation of statutes.
 Stare decisis is a legal principle under which courts are obligated to follow precedent decisions set by itself or other courts, generally those which are hierarchically superior. This legal principle is applied in the United States of America and, generally, in other common law countries.
 Article 192 of the Amparo Law.
 A Writ of Amparo or Amparo trial is a summary proceeding that serves to safeguard a private party’s constitutional rights.
(c) Copyright 2010 by Antonio Maldonado. All rights reserved.