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Peruvian Legal Research

This guide briefly explains the Peruvian legal system. It includes links to primary and secondary legal sources.

Basic Legal Structure

Government

The Republic of Peru (hereinafter Peru) is a democratic country, regulated under the principles of a free-market economy.

The branches of its government are the judiciary, the executive, and the legislative.

Peru follows the civil law tradition. Written statutes and codes are essential in this system.

Unlike the US, Peru is a unitary country that is divided into 25 regions under the control of a central authority.

Peru has a presidential system, under which the President is head of state, head of government, and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The President is elected for five (5) years and consecutive re-election is forbidden.

Court Structure

The judiciary is divided into criminal, administrative, constitutional, and civil courts. The court structure is composed hierarchically (from higher to lower) as follows:

  1. Supreme Court (Corte Suprema)
  2. Superior Courts (Cortes Superiores)
  3. Specialized Courts or Mixed Courts (Juzgados Especializados / Juzgados Mixtos)
  4. Professional Peace Courts (Juzgados de Paz Letrado)
  5. Peace Courts (Juzgados de Paz)

Under the due process principle, all persons under the jurisdiction of the said courts have the right to appeal. Therefore, there will always be a court that settles the controversy in the first instance and another one that will hear the appeal, if filed.

Special Jurisdictions

Military personnel and police forces are subject to a special court when they commit an offense in the line of duty. Rural communities, arbitration issues, as well as electoral proceedings, and matters related to the judges' performance also have special jurisdictions.

Likewise, as a final instance, the Constitutional Tribunal has competence to decide about the violation of constitutional rights and, as a sole instance, when dealing with the constitutionality of a statute or norm of similar hierarchy, among other situations.

Legal Hierarchy

The legal hierarchy of laws at the national level is as follows:

  1. The Constitution / Human rights treaties
  2. Codes & statutes / other international treaties
  3. National regulations

Official Gazette

The official Gazette is known as "Diario Oficial El Peruano". It is published daily and contains statutes and codes, regulations in general, as well as proposed rules, among others.

Constitution

Constitution

The current Constitution was adopted in 1993; since then it has been amended. Its official version is in Spanish.

An English version of the Constitution and a list of its amendments are also available.

Treaties

Legislation

Statutes

Congress makes laws. The executive has also limited power to issue executive orders that have the effect of law.

Codes

Part of Peruvian legislation is organized through codes that cover specific subject matters. Some of them are:

  • Civil Code (Código Civil)
  • Criminal Code (Código Penal)
  • Civil Procedural Code (Código Procesal Civil)
  • Criminal Procedural Code (Código Procesal Penal)
  • Tax Code (Código Tributario)

Regulations

Regulations

Regulations at the national level are promulgated by the executive. They are classified by number and nature (decrees, ministerial resolutions, directoral resolutions, among others).

Secondary Sources

Case Law

Case Law

Generally, lower courts are not required to follow previous decisions made by higher courts. In specific circumstances, decisions from the Supreme Court or the Constitutional Tribunal have a binding effect similar to common law jurisdictions.

Legal Dictionaries

Legal Dictionaries

Spanish-English Legal Terms

Some legal terms that are relevant to know are:

  • Constitución: Constitution

  • Decreto Legislativo: Legislative decree

  • Decreto Ley: Decree-law

  • Ley: Statute

  • Reglamento: Regulation

  • Resolución directoral: Directoral resolution

  • Tratado internacional: International treaty

Additional Resources

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