Mexico and its Legal System

Table of Contents:

  1. Mexico as a Country
    1. Form of Government
      1. The Legislative Power
      2. The Executive Power
      3. The Judicial Power
  2. Sources of the Law in Mexico
    1. The Federal Constitution of 1917
      1. Jurisprudencia
    2. International Treaties and Conventions to which Mexico is a party
    3. Federal Statutes
      1. Regulatory Acts and Ordinary Laws
      2. Regulations and Organic Acts
    4. Codes
      1. Codification Efforts in Mexico
        1. Civil Code
        2. Code of Civil Procedure
        3. Penal Code
        4. Code of Penal Procedure
        5. Code of Commerce
    5. Doctrine
    6. Custom
    7. General Principles of Law
  3. Court System
      1. Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation
      2. Circuit Collegiate Courts
      3. Unitary Circuit Courts
      4. District Courts
      5. Council of the Federal Judiciary
      6. Federal Jury of Citizens
      7. Electoral Tribunal of the Judicial Power of the Federation
    1. State Courts
    2. Other Courts
      1. Federal and Local Conciliation and Arbitration Boards Courts
      2. Agrarian Courts
      3. Tax Courts
  4. Amparo
    1. Definition
    2. Controversies governed by Amparo
    3. Several Types of Amparo
    4. Juicio de Amparo Judgments
  5. Best Mexican Law Web Sites
    1. Free internet Access
    2. Internet Web sites on Mexican Law Library
  6. Conclusions

Introduction

The application of Mexican law in cases decided by American courts during the last two decades -as the applicable foreign law- has been impressive. A survey of cases involving foreign law resolved by California courts in 2004-2005, shows that a total of 100 cases were governed by Mexican law, 57 by Canadian law, 29 by Japanese law, 28 by German law, and 12 by Chinese law.1

The impetus that has triggered the growing presence of the law of this civil law neighboring country in the largest nation with an Anglo-Saxon legal tradition may be associated with these three factors: (i) the geographical contiguity of Mexico to the United States; (ii) the increasing number of a Mexican and a Mexican-American populations in California, Texas, Illinois, Florida, New York, Arizona and New Mexico, making them today's largest ethnic minority in our country; and (iii) the immense volume of wealth that circulates between these two countries on a daily basis, especially after NAFTA entered into force in 1994. According to the latest data, the volume of trade between Mexico and the United States amounts to $890 million per day.2

Indeed, the pervasive effects that geography, Mexican people, and wealth are producing to bring Mexican law to the forefront of American courts, international business, and foreign investment are likely to become more visible and more powerful in the years to come rather than ameliorating . Moreover, these effects cannot be limited to the legal and business realms. They are gradually transforming the culture and the social fabric of our country.

All of this suggests the practical convenience, if not the growing necessity, for judges, legal practitioners, and certain government officials, to become familiar with certain aspects of Mexican law.3 Recent data indicates that the most common areas of Mexican law addressed by American courts are, inter alia, acquisition of real estate and fideicomisos, arbitration, contracts, corporate law, criminal law, family law matters, immigration law, import-export questions, intellectual property, personal injury cases, and certain conflict of laws areas, especially those relating to international judicial cooperation, letters rogatory and enforcement of judgments, and arbitral awards.4

The purpose of this article is to provide a general description of the major features and current characteristics of the Mexican legal system, its principal components, and some of its distinct legal institutions, including -as an introduction to what is an eminently descriptive work- a brief historical background and basic information about Mexico as a country, its territory, people, culture, and economy. It would be absurd and inappropriate to make an attempt to learn about Mexican law devoid of its historical background and without an interest of learning about its people, their problems and tragedies, their failures and successes, and their hopes and dreams. Only then may one proceed to place this universe of information within the political and diplomatic context of its old but uneven and sometimes prickly relationship with the United States.

1. Mexico as a Country

During three centuries (1519-1821), Mexico, as a colony, was politically and economically controlled and militarily dominated by Spain. Spanish law governed all aspects of the social and economic life of its largest possession in the New World, initially by the direct application of the Spanish laws, codes, and regulations, and later, by the enactment of the Recopilación de las Leyes de los Reinos de las Indias,5 a collection of important pieces of Spanish legislation adapted to suit the specific and peculiar conditions prevailing in the Nueva España ( New Spain) at that time.

Historically, Mexico served three fundamental objectives for Spain's expansionist policies: first, its vast and varied natural resources and numerous indigenous peoples were perceived and treated as a source of immense wealth and cheap labor for the exclusive benefit of Spain.6 Second, the New Spain was utilized as a strategic territorial base for the conquest and domination of other lands and resources in the Americas; and, third, the new Spanish colony provided Spain with the opportunity to propagate the Catholic faith -as a component of Spain's culture, jointly with the Spanish language- by evangelizing the indigenous peoples in the Western Hemisphere. The sword and the cross were the salient symbols of Spain during this long colonial period.

Accordingly, it would only be logical to expect certain remnants and influences of Spanish law in today's Mexican law.

1.1 Form of Government

Mexico's form of government and political structure derive from its current Federal Constitution, formulated by a National Constitutional Congress held in the City of Querétaro in 1916-1917. Mexico's constitution adheres to the European model and is composed of 136 articles. Notwithstanding that its text has been amended some 500 times since its enactment on February 5, 1917 (having entered into force on May 5, 1917), the original structure of this fundamental document continues to be in force today.

Mexico's current constitutional document emanated from the most violent revolutionary movement that engulfed that country in the early 20th century. It was crafted in response to the popular and nationalistic demands massively advanced by laborers, peasants, and indigenous peoples against the oppression and harsh working conditions imposed by a powerful minority of landlords, merchants and factory owners.

Characterized as the very first revolutionary social movement of the 20th century, the Revolución Mexicana of 1910 provided the substance for numerous popular and social demands that found their way into the language of the Constitution of 1917.

Some of these demands included, inter alia, the Nation's sovereign and exclusive rights over its natural resources, land for the peasants and a nationalistic regime over real estate property and foreign investment (Art. 27); fair working conditions for laborers recognizing the right to work and to strike, the right to have an eight-hour labor schedule, special working conditions for women and children, a seven-day work week, and special labor courts at the federal and state levels (Art. 123); free, non-religious public education from elementary to the university level and regulation of private education (Art. 3); freedoms protecting the right to work, freedom of expression, the right to get an official answer from authorities, and the right of association (Arts. 5, 6, 7 and 8); the abolition of nobility titles (Art. 12); the right to possess weapons for self defense (Art. 10); the banning of special courts and special laws, and the right to fair and expeditious judicial proceedings (i.e., due process) (Art. 13); the banning of retroactive application of laws, and the right not to be molested at home, or in one's family, personal documents or possessions without a judicially mandated order (Arts. 14, 16); freedom of religion (Art. 130), etc. All of these constitutional rights (in close legal symmetry with those in the U.S. Constitution), and many others, are recognized in Mexico as "Individual guarantees" (Garantías individuales) and constitute fundamental freedoms and rights firmly protected against unconstitutional intrusions by public authorities through the special federal sui generis judicial proceedings known as Amparo.

Many of the provisions of the current 1917 Constitution may be characterized as "aspirational." They represent certain ideals that emanated from the political, socio-economic, and legal philosophy of the revolutionary movement of 1910 that, although unreachable at that time, and even in the present day, constitute a goal that Mexico hopes to materially reach in the not too distant future. An example of these are, free and public education, true equality between men and women, owning a house, having a steady and well-paid job, enjoying a national health protection system, fair and expeditious justice, having a clean and adequate environment, having efficient and honest public authorities, etc.

Another characteristic of the Federal Constitution is that its language has been amended so many times since 1917 that its text appears to be covered with patches that break its uniformity and continuity.7 This has led, in recent years, to politicians, entrepreneurs, and academicians to propose that Mexico needs a more modern and progressive constitution in symmetry with the principles of justice, democracy, and peace to make it more apt to operate in the 21st century.

The federal government is divided into three powers: the legislative, the executive, and the judicial (Art. 50).

A. The Legislative Power

The legislative power is vested in a federal congress (Congreso General) divided into two chambers: the Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados) and the Chamber of Senators (Cámara de Senadores) (Art. 50).8 The deputies' chamber is composed of 500 representatives of the nation (Diputados), all elected every three years by the Mexican citizens. 300 of these are elected by direct majority vote and the other 200 according to the principle of proportional representation (Arts. 51-52). The senators' chamber is composed of two members of each of the 31 states (and two more for the Federal District, i.e., Mexico City), all directly elected every six years (Art. 56). The federal congress assembles in ordinary and extraordinary sessions, and during its recess its functions are performed by a Permanent Commission (Comisión Permanente) composed of 37 members (Arts. 65 and 78).

Every resolution of Congress shall have the character of a law or of a decree (Ley or Decreto) (Art. 70). The right to legislate belongs to the President, the deputies and senators of the Congress, and the legislatures of the states (Art. 71).

According to Article 73 of the Federal Constitution, Congress has the most ample powers.

Therefore, all of the areas of special interest to foreign investors are governed in Mexico by federal statutes enacted by the Federal Congress, such as the Foreign Investment Act, the General Companies Act, the Federal Labor Act, the General Means of Communications Act, the General Petroleum and Hydrocarbons Act, the Radio and TV Act, the Professional Activities Act, the Amparo Act, the Environmental Act, etc.

Similar to the areas enunciated by the Constitution of the United States, Article 76 of Mexico's Federal Constitution prescribes as exclusive powers of the Senate, the ability to analyze the foreign affairs policy conducted by the President of the Republic and approve treaties and diplomatic conventions, to ratify appointments of Mexico's Attorney General (Procurador General de la República) and high members of the foreign service, the Treasury (Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público), and high military officers (Ejército, Armada y Fuerza Aérea); to give its consent for the President to permit the departure of national troops (Guardia Nacional) outside the country; resolve political questions which may arise between the internal powers of a given State; designate the Justices (Ministros) of Mexico's Supreme Court from the three candidates proposed by the President; settle boundary disputes between States, etc.

B. The Federal Executive Power

Pursuant to Article 80 of the Federal Constitution, the exercise of the "Supreme Executive Power of the Union" (Supremo Poder Ejecutivo de la Unión) is vested in a single individual who is designated "President of the United Mexican States" (Presidente de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos). The election of the President is direct and under the terms prescribed by the electoral law. The President assumes the office on December 1st , the presidential period lasts six years and "the President in no case and under no reason can serve again as President." (Art. 83). During his/her tenure, the President of the Republic can only be accused of treason or of serious crimes of the common order (Art. 108).

Pursuant to Article 89 of the Constitution, the powers and duties of the President include, inter alia, promulgating and executing the laws enacted by Congress; to appointing and freely removing the members of the Cabinet; to appointing ministers, diplomatic agents and consuls general, with the approval of the Senate; to appoint, with the approval of the Senate, superior officers of the Army, Navy and Air Force; preserving the national security; other higher federal officials; the power to declare war; to designate the Attorney General of the Republic (Procurador General de la República) with the Senate approval; to give the Judicial Power whatever assistance it may need for the expeditious exercise of its functions; to submit to the Senate the names of three candidates to be considered for the position of Justice to the Supreme Court, etc. (Art. 89).

As a middle-size power, Mexico has traditionally engaged in an active and constructive foreign affairs policy at the bilateral, regional and international levels. Traditionally, this policy has been inspired and guided by very important international law principles in consonance with Mexico's history, culture and diplomatic practice. Unlike other nations, these principles are explicitly enunciated in Article 89, para. X, of the Federal Constitution.

C. The Federal Judicial Power

Article 94 of the Federal Constitution prescribes that the "Judicial Power of the Federation (Poder Judicial de la Federación) is vested in a Supreme Court of Justice, in an Electoral Tribunal, Circuit Collegiate and Unitary Courts, and in District Courts." The administration, monitoring (Vigilancia), and discipline of this judicial power (except the Supreme Court) take place under the Council of the Federal Judiciary (Consejo de la Judicatura Federal) pursuant to the bases established by the Constitution and the applicable laws (Art. 94).

Mexico's Supreme Court of the Nation is composed of eleven Justices (Ministros) and shall function as a full court (en Pleno) or in chambers (Salas). Its sessions shall be public with the exception of cases in which morals or the public interest require secrecy (Sesiones secretas). The work and jurisdiction of all of these federal courts, as well as the responsibilities of those who work for the Federal Judicial Power are regulated by the pertinent federal legislative enactments, in particular the Organic Act of the Federal Judicial Power (Ley Orgánica del Poder Judicial de la Federación),9 the Amparo Act,10 the Federal Code of Civil Procedure (Código Federal de Procedimientos Civiles),11 the Federal Act of Administrative Procedure (Ley Federal de Procedimiento Administrativo)12 and the Reglamentary Act of Paragraphs I and II of Article 105 of the Federal Constitution (Ley Reglamentaria de las Fracciones I y II de la Constitución Federal).13

The Council of the Federal Judiciary is empowered to determine the number, circuit divisions, territorial jurisdiction and, when appropriate, the subject matter jurisdiction of the Circuit Collegiate and Unitary Courts, and of the Federal District Courts (Art. 94).

The remuneration received for their services by the Supreme Court Justices, by Circuit Magistrates, District Judges and Counselors of the Federal Judiciary, and by the Electoral Magistrates, may not be reduced during their term in office (Art. 94).

Appointments of Justices of the Supreme Court are made by the President of the Republic who submits the names of three candidates to the Chamber of Senators who approves one after examining each of the nominees. Supreme Court Justices serve for fifteen years, and may only be removed for serious cause pursuant to Title Four of the Federal Constitution (i.e., Responsibility of Public Servants and of the State's Patrimony, Arts. 108-114).

II. Sources of the Law in Mexico

From a constitutional viewpoint, the sources of the law in Mexico -and their corresponding legal hierarchy- are: 1) the Federal Constitution of 1917; 2) International treaties and conventions to which Mexico is a party, closely followed by 3) federal statutes; 4) codes; 5) doctrine; 6) custom; and, 7) general principles of law.

2.1 The Federal Constitution of 1917

Mexico's Federal Constitution is at the apex of that country's legal system. Adhering to a European format, composed of 136 Articles, and having been amended close to 500 times, the Mexican Constitution was the first fundamental document adopted in the 20th century.

Historically, the Constitution of 1917 (with its long official name: Constitución Política de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos) emerged during the popular and violent revolutionary movement of 1910. It represents the most complete constitutional document whose first antecedents can be traced back to the Sentimientos de la Nación, formulated by José María Morelos y Pavón in 1813, and to the Apatzingán Constitution of 1814. These two documents were produced during the independence war and were later followed, among others, by the federal constitutions of 1824 and 1857.14

The fundamental law of Mexico offers a number of varied and intriguing facets, especially when perceived by observers from the common law system. Some of these facets include the fact that the Mexican constitution (i) was inspired by the Constitution of the United States, (ii) introduced the innovative Mexican legal notion of "Social law," and (iii) is a public document that should be considered as strongly programmatic and aspirational.15

The creation of the notion of "Social law" resulted from the clear purpose that animated the discussions of the Constitutional Congress of 1916-1917 to formulate legal principles directed at protecting two of the then most exploited social classes: the peasants and the laborers. This led to the content of Articles 27 and 123 of the Federal Constitution as the essence of a panoply of "social rights" protecting those two classes.16 Its programmatic content was embedded in it by different presidents in order to leave their personal implant in the constitutional text whether, for example, to impart a socialist public education by Lázaro Cárdenas; to enunciate the directing principles for the conduct of foreign affairs done by Miguel de la Madrid; or the elimination of the original collective features of the ejido system and the belated recognition of Mexico as a pluri-ethnic nation accomplished by the Carlos Salinas de Gortari administration.

In the Republic of Mexico, having again adopted the system established by the United States, each of its 31 states (plus the Federal District) has it own constitution -known as "State" or "local" constitution (Constitución del Estado or Constitutución local). All of these constitutions strongly follow the format and content of the federal model and their language must be in conformity with that of the Federal Constitution.

A. "Jurisprudencia"

As a country that belongs to the civil legal tradition, in Mexico the term "Jurisprudencia" has two distinct meanings. The first is the universally recognized meaning of the science of law or the philosophy of law.17 The second, refers to those special decisions rendered by Mexico's Supreme Court and by the Circuit Courts which are legally binding to lower courts. Under this connotation, the term Jurisprudencia becomes a term of art.

Mexico does not adhere to the stare decisis principle. In other words, courts in Mexico do not decide the cases submitted to them based upon precedents (like in the United States). but instead according to what is mandated by Article 14 of the Federal Constitution, which reads:

ARTICLE 14.

..........

In law suits of a civil nature, the definite judgment shall be according to the letter or to the legal interpretation of the law and, in the absence of the latter, it shall be based on the general principles of the law.

Therefore, Jurisprudencias are the only exception to the stare decisis principle within Mexico's legal system since the tenor of these federal judicial pronouncements, as precedents, are legally binding upon lower courts.

What is a Jurisprudencia under Mexican law? According to Articles 192 and 193 of the Federal Amparo Act:

ARTICLE 192. Constitute obligatory Jurisprudencias the resolutions dictated by the Supreme Court of Justice functioning in plenary (Pleno) or in chambers (Salas),18 provided that what is resolved in them is based upon five consecutive and uninterrupted decisions (Ejecutorias) that have been approved by at least eight Justices (Ministros) when issuing a jurisprudencia by the plenary, or by four Justices when a jurisprudencia is produced by a chamber. In addition, jurisprudencias are the resolutions that harmonize the contradictory decisions (Contradicciones de tesis) issued by the chambers or by the plenary.

The jurisprudencia established by the Supreme Court of Justice, whether functioning in plenary or in chambers, is obligatory for these with respect to the jurisprudencia decreed by the plenary, and [legally binding] also to the Unitary and Collegiate Circuit Courts, the district courts, the military courts and ordinary judicial courts of the States and of the Federal District, and administrative and labor courts, local or federal.

ARTICLE 193. The jurisprudencia established by each of the Circuit Collegiate Courts is obligatory for the unitary tribunals, district courts, military and ordinary judicial courts of the States and of the Federal District, and the administrative and labor tribunals, local or federal.

The resolutions of the Collegiate Circuit Courts constitute jurisprudencia provided that what is resolved in them is based upon five consecutive and uninterrupted decisions, and that they have been approved by unanimity of votes of the magistrates who compose each collegiate court.

ARTICLE 194. The jurisprudencia is interrupted, thus losing its obligatoriness, when a contrary resolution (Ejecutoria en contrario) is pronounced by eight Justices, when rendered by the plenary, or by four ejecutorias when produced by a chamber, and by unanimity of votes when involving a Circuit Collegiate Court.

In any case, the respective ejecutoria shall enunciate the reasons supporting the interruption, referring to those taken into consideration for establishing the corresponding jurisprudencia.

The same rules established for the formation of jurisprudencia shall be observed for its modification.

Said Amparo Act prescribes that the Supreme Court shall publish, within fifteen days of its formation, the "jurisprudential resolution" (Tesis jurisprudencial) in the judicial reporter "Federal Judicial Weekly" (Semanario Judicial de la Federación), send it to the plenary and chamber of the Supreme Court and to all pertinent Circuit Collegiate Courts, and add it to the respective file (Archivo) for information and dissemination purposes. In addition, the Semanario is to publish the jurisprudencia in a special monthly gazette.

Jurisprudencias are a peculiar institution of Mexico's legal system. However, it should be pointed out that somewhat similar institutions exist in other civil law countries, such as Belgium, France, The Netherlands and Spain, as well as other countries in Latin America (Argentina) and Asia (The Phillippines).19

2.2 International Treaties and Conventions.

Article 133 of Mexico's Federal Constitution prescribes:

This Constitution, the laws of the Congress of the Union, and the treaties that have been made and shall be made in accordance therewith by the President of the Republic, with the approval of the Senate, shall be the Supreme Law of the entire Union. The judges of each State shall conform to said Constitution, laws and treaties, in spite of any contradictory provisions that may exist in the [local] constitutions and laws of the States.

This Article should be read in conjunction with paragraph X of Article 89 of the Constitution which prescribes that the President has the exclusive power to direct that country's foreign policy and to enter into international treaties, submitting them to the approval of the Senate.20

Pursuant to said Convention, international treaties are considered to have a higher legal hierarchy over contrary domestic law, as predicated by Articles 27 (1) and 46 (1) of said Convention. Addressing the question of the hierarchy of the Mexican legal norms, the Supreme Court of Mexico, in a 1999 thesis, held that "only the Constitution is the Supreme Law" adding:

[T]his Supreme Court of Justice considers that international treaties are placed on a second plane immediately below the Fundamental Law and above the federal and local law. This interpretation of Article 133 of the constitution derives from the fact that these international engagements are assumed by the Mexican State in its entirety and obligate all of its authorities vis-à-vis the international community; this explains why the Constitutional Assembly has empowered the President of the Republic to sign the international treaties as Head of the State and, in the same manner, the Senate intervenes as representative of the will of the federal entitites and, through its ratification, obligates its authorities.

..........

.....the interpretation of Article 133 places on a third plane the federal and the local law at the same hierarchy pursuant to what is prescribed by Article 124 of the Fundamental Law, which mandates that: "The powers not expressly granted by this Constitution to federal officials are understood to be reserved to the States."

This High Tribunal does not loses sight of its previous resolution when it adopted a different opinion in its plenary thesis PC/92 published in the Gaceta del Semanario Judicial de la Federación, No. 60, of December 1992, page 27, titled: "Federal Laws and International Treaties. They Have the Same Normative Hierarchy." However, this plenary Tribunal considers timely to abandon said ruling and assume what considers the higher hierarchy of treaties even above federal law.21

2.3 Federal Statutes

A. Regulatory Acts and Ordinary Laws

Any legislative enactments by the Federal Congress published as laws, acts and regulations fall under the category of federal statutes. Article 73 of the Federal Constitution enumerates the ample powers of the Federal Congress, including its exclusive authority to enact federal legislation.22

From the viewpoint of their legal importance, federal statutes are divided into two categories: a) Regulatory Acts and b) Ordinary laws. Regulatory laws (Leyes reglamentarias) are those that develop, expand and detail the language of certain provisions of the Federal Constitution -such as those addressing natural resources (oil, hydrocarbons and natural gas, minerals, waters and lakes), marine spaces, fishing, "Amparo" protections, constitutional controversies, etc.- in order to establish the legal bases for their effective implementation. For example, the Regulatory Act of paragraph VI of Article 76 of the Constitution to Resolve Political Questions within a Given State, the Regulatory Act of Article 27 of the Constitution on Oil Matters, etc.

Ordinary laws (Leyes ordinarias) are the statutes enacted by the Federal Congress that do not derive or emanate from a specific constitutional provision but legislate on a specific subject matter under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal Congress, such as the Customs Act; Foreign Trade Act; Roads, Bridges and Auto-transportation Act; Nationality Act; Ports Act, etc.23

B. Regulations and Organic Acts

Regulations (Reglamentos) are legislative enactments that detail and supplement the language of a given statute or Act for interpretation or implementation purposes. Article 89, para. I, of the Constitution endows the President of Mexico the power to issue regulations for the purpose of interpreting, clarifying, expanding or supplementing the language of legislative enactments. For example, Mexico's Nationality Act (Ley de Nacionalidad) is to be read in conjunction with the corresponding Reglamento, similar to a statute and its regulations in the United States. Organic Acts (Leyes Orgánicas) regulate in detail the organization, powers, and functions of governmental agencies, such as the Organic Act of the Mexican Navy, the Organic Act of PEMEX (Mexico's oil industry), and the Organic Act of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).

2.4 Codes

A. Codification Efforts in Mexico

Mexico's efforts to produce the five basic codes which sustain the legal system in any country belonging to the civil legal tradition -that is, the Civil Code, the Code of Civil Procedure, the Penal Code, the Code of Penal Procedure, and the Code of Commerce- date back to 1822, one year after Mexico acquired its political independence. However, the most fruitful results did not materialize until the late 1880s.

Following the European tradition, the important task of codifying a major branch of Mexican law was the work of an eminent group of jurists working as a special commission appointed by the executive at the federal level (and at the local level for the enactment of the corresponding State codes). Interestingly, in Mexico, some of the most important pioneering codification efforts were initiated at the state level.

a) Civil Code

The Civil Code is of central importance to Mexico's legal system. In general, this code is present at each and every step of the life of Mexicans, as well as that of foreigners when they are present in Mexico and engage in certain acts or transactions. In a nutshell, the Civil Code is so important because it is at the core of Mexico's social fabric: it incorporates the country's family law, regulates personal and real property, details a variety of major contracts, and governs trusts and estates. A section at the end of this code sets forth and details the services provided by the Civil Registry and by the Public Registry of Property and Commerce in Mexico.24

Traditionally, the Civil Code is divided into four major sections, known as "Books." The Book of Individuals (Personas) addresses the legal capacity and rights of individuals and legal entities, ranging from birth, paternity, and guardianships to marriage, divorce, kinship and support, parental authority, emancipation and majority. The Book of Assets (Bienes) includes laws relating to real estate, personal property, usufructs, easements and servitudes, and adverse possession. The Book of Decedent's Estates (Sucesiones) relates to last wills and testaments, testamentary and intestate successions, concubinage relations, and executors. The Book of Obligations (Obligaciones) and contracts comprises general obligations, payment, associations and companies, and guarantees in general.

The legal innovations introduced by the Civil Code of 1928 include the legal equality of men and women (Art. 2, Federal Civil Code or FCC), property rights (Art. 840), civil liability in tort cases (Art. 1910), strict liability in personal injury cases (known in Mexico as "Extra-contractual objective liability") (Art. 1913), professional liability (Arts. 1935-1937), the promise to contract (Arts. 2243-2247), the exercise of judicial discretion in certain cases (Art. 21), the recognition of unions as legal entities (Art. 25), and the equal authority and privileges of husband and wife regarding the household (Art. 168).

Two closing commentaries should be made regarding the Civil Code. First, the Civil Code of the Federal District had a traditional dual role in Mexico. It was the local code for the Federal District (that is, Mexico City) in ordinary matters, and for the entire Republic in federal matters. However, this legal duality changed in 2000. Today, Mexico has a Federal Civil Code,25 and a separate Civil Code for the Federal District. This change, consisting in having two separate codes, introduced substantive reforms and updated the legislation of the Mexico City code in the area of family law.26

Secondly, the Civil Code for the Federal District, given Mexico's highly centralized political system (until 2000 when the nation's political control by the PRI crumbled), was reproduced almost verbatim by each of the 31 States since 1884. Until now, there has been little, if any, difference between the Federal Civil Code, on the one hand, and each of the Codes of the thirty-one States, on the other. It is likely that in the future, as changes occur throughout the country, each State will revise and update its own local civil code in order to reflect these changes.

b) Code of Civil Procedure

The Code of Civil Procedure of the Federal District was promulgated on May 15, 1884, which reproduced most of the provisions contained in the corresponding code enacted twelve years earlier, on August 13, 1872. The current code was published on August 29, 1932, and has been amended several times. In 1896, Porfirio Díaz, then President of Mexico, published the Federal Code of Civil Procedure, which was then amended in 1908. The current Federal Code of Civil Procedure dates back to 1942,27 and was amended in 1988 to adopt the policy of "Limited Territorialism," which allowed the application of foreign law to Mexico. This amendment also added a new section on "International Procedural Cooperation."28 This code was recently amended.

c) Penal Code

The first Mexican Penal Code was enacted by the State of Veracruz on April 28, 1835, and was amended in 1849. It was not until 1871 that the Penal Code of the Federal District, known as the Martínez de Castro Code, was promulgated. After the 1910 revolution, a new Penal Code was published in 1929.29 This code was then substituted by the current 1931 Code which, in turn, has been amended many times.

d) Code of Penal Procedure

The Code of Penal Procedure for the Federal District appeared on September 15, 1880, to be repealed by the 1890 Code. The sources for this code included pertinent legislative enactments from France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Portugal, Germany, and Japan. This code was replaced by a code promulgated on October 2, 1929. The current Code of Penal Procedure dates back to 1931.30

The first Federal Code of Civil Procedure was published in the Diario Oficial de la Federación (D.O.) Of December 16, 1908. The current code dates back to 1931, and has been amended many times, including a major revision in 2002.31

e) Code of Commerce

In a country where codes and other legislative enactments play an important role in the daily conduct of legal, political, social, and economic interactions, Mexico's Code of Commerce is not only the oldest in that nation, but also one of the most venerable throughout Latin America.

This Code governs the conduct of business transactions throughout the Republic of Mexico, although not in an exclusive manner. This regulatory power is shared, first, with the applicable provisions of the Federal Civil Code, and secondly, with numerous specialized federal statutes that address specific matters of commercial importance, such as companies, negotiable instruments, insurance contracts, bankruptcies, maritime law, etc.32

The application of the provisions of the Federal Civil Code to commercial matters is explicitly authorized by Article 2 of the Code of Commerce as a mechanism for supplementing its provisions in the absence of commercial rules. Given the paramount importance the Federal Civil Code plays in the conduct of civil and commercial matters throughout the republic of Mexico, it is only logical to expect that this Code is to fill in the gaps found in the Code of Commerce. This is especially true when one considers that the Federal Civil Code addresses in detail inter alia, contractual matters -including the formation, interpretation, enforcement and breach of contracts, civil associations and companies, movable and immovable assets, mortgages, the Public registry of Property and Commerce, etc.- all significant legal avenues for the conduct of business transactions.

Adhering to the legal philosophy of the epoch, the 1889 Code of Commerce may be described as a comprehensive and systematic legal corpus that contains the major principles, rules, and institutions of a mercantile nature, both substantive and procedural, divided into five books. Out of these books, books 3 and 4 have been repealed. The Code was originally composed of 1,5000 Articles (similar to Sections) but 649 of them (approximately 43%) have since been abrogated or statutorily replaced, as a result of 29 major amendments that took place from 1932 through 2003.Today, the Code of Commerce is effectively composed of 780 Articles.33

2.5 Doctrine

From a Mexican law perspective, legal doctrine is formed by the ideas, interpretations, written opinions, and general commentaries advanced by legal scholars through their writings, law courses, or oral presentations relative to any Mexican law issues or questions. The general legal body of these scholarly contributions do not carry the force of law and, as such, are not legally binding.

2.6 Custom

Rules, principles, or norms formed through a gradual but uniform passage of time are recognized as a custom or habitual practice in a given place and time. Unlike international law, where the formation of customary legal rules and principles are considered to be legally binding to States based on the notion of Opinio juris sive necessitatis, at the domestic level, the rules, principles, or norms created through custom are not legally binding per se.

In other words, under Mexican law, the rules, principles, or norms developed through custom are recognized as a source of law only when this recognition is based upon an explicit provision of the applicable law allowing for such recognition.

It is interesting to point out that in the Republic of Mexico today, there are two parallel legal systems: the official legal system, derived from Spanish law or other foreign legal systems on the one hand, and the normative customary systems of a number of Indigenous peoples, such as the Huicholes, Triquis, Mixtecos, Tarahumaras, etc., on the other.34

2.7 General Principles of Law

In Mexico, the general principles of law -expressly cited by Article 14 of the Federal Constitution, reproduced earlier (under the Jurisprudencia section)- have not been expressly enunciated, neither by a statute nor by a code. Among them, equity, good faith, the obligation to comply with what was agreed upon (Pacta sunt serbanda), an individual's right to defend himself/herself when attacked, etc., and others even more general, such as to give to each what belongs to him/her and not to harm anyone (derived from the ancient Roman law principles of Suum cuique tribuere and alterum non laedas), tend to be cited by Mexican legal specialists as general principles of law.

In the constitutional law area, more modern principles under this category include, inter alia, the rule of law, the principle of legality, the principle of equality, and the principle of security, with a very clear relationship to U.S. constitutional law principles.

A Circuit Collegiate Court sentenced, in 1997, that "the general principles of law are not applicable when there is an explicit legal text governing a specific legal situation," and another one asserted that, in labor law matters, said principles "are applicable... only in those cases not contemplated in the law, in the regulations, or when the case cannot be resolved based on custom or use."35

III. Court System

In general, Mexican courts may be divided into three large groups: 1) Federal courts; 2) State courts; and, 3) Other courts.

Patterned after Article III of the United States Constitution, Mexico adopted a dual system of federal and state courts.

3.1 Federal Courts and Articles 94 and 104 of the Federal Constitution

Federal courts form a part of the Federal Judicial Power (Power Judicial de la Federación) to which Article 94 of the Federal Constitution of 1917 refers.36 This Power is vested in a Supreme Court of Justice, in al Electoral Tribunal, Circuit Collegiate and Unitary Courts, and in District Courts.

More specifically, the Organic Act of the Judicial Power of the Federation prescribes that this Power is exercised by:37

  1. The Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación);
  2. The Electoral Tribunal (Tribunal Electoral);
  3. The Circuit Collegiate Tribunals (Tribunales Colegiados de Circuito);
  4. The Circuit Unitary Tribunals (Tribunales Unitarios de Circuito);
  5. The District Courts (Juzgados de Distrito);
  6. The Council of the Federal Judiciary (Consejo de la Judicatura Federal);
  7. The Federal Jury of Citizens (Jurado Federal de Ciudadanos); and
  8. The State Courts and those of the Federal District in the cases established by Article 107, para. XII, of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States and in those in which, by mandate of the law, these courts should act as auxiliaries of the Federal Justice.

Pursuant to Article 104 of the Federal Constitution, the courts of the Federal Judicial Power have jurisdiction over:

  1. All controversies of a civil or criminal nature regarding the implementation or application of federal laws or of international treaties entered into by the Mexican State. When said controversies only affect the personal interests of individuals, the ordinary judges and courts and those of the Federal District may exercise concurrent jurisdiction, at the election of the plaintiff. The judgments of first instance may be appealed before the immediately superior judge who took cognizance of the matter in the first place.

    I. B. Appeals for review (Recursos de revisión) filed against the definite resolutions of the administrative tribunals referred to in paragraph XXIX-H of Article 73 and paragraph IV, sub-para. E) of Article 122 of the Federal Constitution, but only in the cases prescribed by the applicable laws. The appeals (Revisiones) over which the Circuit Collegiate Courts exercise jurisdiction shall follow the provisions of the Reglamentary Act of Articles 103 and 107 of the Constitution (Ley de Amparo reglamentaria de los Artículos 103 y 107 de la Constitución Federal) established in the cases of Amparo indirecto;

  2. All controversies involving maritime law;
  3. Those in which the Federation is a party;
  4. Of controversies and causes of action referred to in Article 105, all of which shall be exclusively decided by the Supreme Court of Justice;
  5. Those that arise between a State and one or more neighboring States; and
  6. All cases that involve members of the diplomatic and consular corps.

A. Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation

This is the highest court of the country. Pursuant to Article 105 of Mexico's Federal Constitution, the Supreme Court exercises exclusive jurisdiction over:

  1. Constitutional controversies that may arise between:
    1. The Federation and a State or the Federal District;
    2. The Federation and a municipality;
    3. The Federal Executive Power and the Congress of the Union;
    4. One State and another State;
    5. One State and the Federal District;
    6. The Federal District and a municipality;
    7. Two municipalities of different States;
    8. Two powers within the same State;
    9. One State and one of its municipalities;
    10. One State and the municipality of another State; and,
    11. Two organs of the government of the Federal District; and
  2. Inconstitutionality causes of action raising the issue of a possible contradiction between a general law and the Constitution (according to the percentages established by the latter); and
  3. At its own initiative or based on a well-founded request of the corresponding Unitary Circuit Court or of the General Attorney's Office (Procurador General de la República), it may take cognizance of the appeals (Recursos de apelación) against judgments of the Federal District Courts rendered in those proceedings in which the Federation is a party, and given their interest and importance.38

In general, in accordance with Article 106 of the Federal Constitution, the Judicial Power of the Federation is empowered to resolve, pursuant to the pertinent law, the controversies that may arise, regarding their jurisdiction, between: a) federal courts and those of the States and the Federal District; b) the courts of one State and those of another State or of the Federal District; or, c) between the courts of one State and those of the Federal District (Article 106, Federal Constitution).

In addition, this Power is to resolve the controversies alluded to in Articles 103 and 107 regarding "Amparo" proceedings, pursuant to the "bases" prescribed by Article 107, and the respective Amparo Act.

B. Circuit Collegiate Courts

These courts, composed by three magistrates, and a secretary (Secretario de Acuerdos), and pursuant to Article 37 of the Organic Act of the Judicial Power of the Federation, exercise jurisdiction over:

  1. Direct Amparo lawsuits against definite judgments, awards or resolutions that have ended Amparo proceedings for alleged violations contained in said judgments, awards or resolutions, or during the course of the corresponding proceedings (as detailed by Article 37 of the Organic Act of the Judicial Power of the Federation);
  2. Appeals (Recursos) validly filed against the resolutions rendered by the District judges, Unitary Circuit Courts or the superior tribunal of the responsible court, in the cases of paras. I-II-III of Article 83 of the Amparo Act;
  3. Queja appeals in the case of paras. V-XI of Article 95 of the Amparo Act;
  4. Revisión appeals against judgments rendered in a constitutional hearing by District judges, Unitary Circuit Courts or the superior tribunal of the responsible in the cases referred to by Article 85 of the Amparo Act, or in certain extradition cases;
  5. Revisión appeals established by the laws under para. I-B of Article 104 of the Federal Constitution;
  6. Jurisdiction conflicts between Unitary Circuit Collegiate Courts or District Courts in Amparo lawsuits;
  7. Disqualifications and excuses in Amparo matters between District judges, and in any other matter between Circuit Court magistrates, or the authorities referred to in Article 37 of the Amparo Act;
  8. Reclamación appeals according to Article 103 of the Amparo Act; and
  9. Any other expressly established by the law or the general accords issued by the Supreme Court whether functioning in plenary or in chambers.

C. Unitary Circuit Courts

The Unitary Circuit Courts are composed of a single magistrate and the number of secretaries, Actuarios and employees determined by the law. Pursuant to Article 29 of the Organic Act of the Judicial Power of the Federation, they exercise jurisdiction over:

  1. Amparo lawsuits against the acts of other Unitary Circuit Courts that are not definite judgments;
  2. Appeals in matters decided in first instance by District Courts;
  3. In the case of appeals of Denegada Apelación;
  4. In the determination (Calificación) of disqualifications, excuses, and recusals (Recusaciones) of District judges;
  5. In controversies between District judges within their jurisdiction (except in Amparo lawsuits); and
  6. In any other matters dictated by the laws.

D. District Courts

Pursuant to Articles 50, 51, 53, and 54 of the Organic Act of the Judicial Power of the Federation, District judges may either have specialized federal jurisdiction in criminal areas (Art. 50), in criminal Amparo cases (Art. 51), in civil matters (Art. 53), in civil Amparo cases (Art. 54), and in labor matters (Art. 55), or be District judges in general cases.39

All federal proceedings before a federal court are regulated by the Federal Code of Civil Procedure40 (Código Federal de Procedimientos Civiles) jointly with, in Amparo cases, by the federal Amparo Act.

E. Council of the Federal Judiciary

The administration, supervision, discipline and judicial career of the Judicial Power of the Federation (with the exception of the Supreme Court of Justice and the Electoral Tribunal) are under the control of the Council of the Federal Judiciary, as mandated by the Federal Constitution. This Council endeavors, at all times, to protect the autonomy of the organs of this Judicial Power, as well as the impartiality and independence of its members.

This Council is composed of seven members (known as Consejeros or Counsellors): one is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Justice, who also presides the Council; three of them are designated by the Plenary of the Supreme Court from among Magistrates of Circuit and District Judges; two other by the Senate, and one by the President of the Republic. All of them must have distinguished themselves by their professional and administrative capacity and honesty in the performance of their activities.

F. Federal Jury of Citizens

This jury is empowered to resolve, through a verdict, questions of fact submitted to it by District judges in accordance with the law. In addition, this body shall take cognizance of criminal offenses committed through the mass media (Prensa) against the public order or the external or internal security of the Nation, and of any other crimes as determined by the laws.

This Federal Jury is to be composed of seven Mexican citizens designated by a drawing of lots (Sorteo) as prescribed by the Federal Code of Criminal Procedure (Código Federal de Procedimientos Penales).41

G. Electoral Tribunal

Pursuant to Article 99 of Mexico's Federal Constitution, this Tribunal is the specialized organ of the Judicial Power of the Federation, and the highest tribunal on electoral matters in that country.

The Electoral Tribunal has jurisdiction to resolve, in a final and unimpeachable manner, the challenges to the federal elections of Deputies (Diputados), and Senators, and those involving the elections of the President of the Republic. Any controversies regarding acts and resolutions of federal electoral authorities; labor conflicts or differences between the Tribunal and its officials; the establishment of Jurisprudencias with respect to federal elections; the determination and imposition of sanctions for violations of the federal electoral provisions; to issue the internal regulations for its operation, etc.42

3.2 State Courts

Each of Mexico's thirty-one States and the Federal District (i.e., Mexico City, which administratively operates as a "State") have their own local courts as part of the Judicial Power of the respective State (Poder Judicial del Estado), as recognized by Article 116 of the Federal Constitution, which prescribes:

The public power of the States shall be divided, for its exercise, in Executive, Legislative and Judicial, and two or more of these powers cannot be reunited in a single person or corporation, nor deposit the Legislative in a single individual.

The powers of the States shall be organized in accordance with the Constitution of each of them, subject to the following norms:

..........

III. The Judicial Power of the States shall be exercised by the courts established by the respective Constitutions.

The independence of the magistrates and judges in the exercise of its functions shall be guaranteed by the Constitutions and the organic laws of the States, which shall establish the conditions for the entering, formation and duration of those who serve in the Judicial Power of the States.

..........

The State courts administer justice within the territorial boundaries of the political entity in question under the applicable Code of Civil Procedure (Código de Procedimientos Civiles) of the corresponding State (or of the Federal District). The structure and functions of these local courts are outlined by the respective State Constitution and the corresponding State Act establishing its own judicial power.

In general, State courts consist of: (i) the Superior Tribunal of Justice (Tribunal Superior de Justicia), of a collegiate composition, that functions as appellate court; (ii) Courts of First Instance (Juzgados de Primera Instancia) which resolve ordinary matters of certain economic significance usually divided into civil, familial and criminal; (iii) Minor courts (Juzgados Menores) resolving controversies of small economic significance; and, (iv) Small Claims Courts (Juzgados de Mínima Cuantía) which use different names (Juzgado de Paz, Juzgado Local or Municipal, etc.). State judges tend to be appointed by the Governor of the State in question with subsequent approval by the local Congress.

3.3 Other Courts

Mexico has established several specialized courts to resolve labor, tax, agrarian, military, etc. controversies.

Labor Courts have been established by Article 123 of the Federal Constitution. They may operate at the federal and state level (Juntas Federales y Locales de Conciliación y Arbitraje) and their procedure is governed by the Federal Labor Act (Ley Federal del Trabajo).

A. Federal (and Local) Conciliation and Arbitration Boards

This Board resolves labor disputes between workers and employers that arise from the employment relationship or from acts or events that are intimately connected with the employment relationship.

The Board is composed of one governmental representative and of representatives of workers and employers, who are designated for industrial, and other sectors pursuant to the categories established by the Secretariat of Labor and Welfare (Secretaría del Trabajo y Previsión Social). The Board operates in plenary or Special Boards.43

The Local Conciliation and Arbitration Boards (Juntas Locales de Conciliación y Arbitraje) function in each State and have jurisdiction over labor disputes that do not fall within the jurisdiction of the Federal Boards.44

B. Agrarian Courts

These courts are established by Article 27 of the Federal Constitution and they resolve matters pertaining to the Federal Agrarian Act (Ley Agraria) in order to render "honest and expeditious agrarian justice to guarantee the legal security of the communal, small property, and ejido lands," including solving controversies regarding the demarcation of boundaries between different types of lands or different agrarian communities.

C. Tax Courts

In Mexico, the Federal Tribunal of Fiscal and Administrative Justice (Tribunal Federal de Justicia Fiscal y Administrativa) is the administrative court that resolves any and all fiscal and administrative matters involving individuals or legal entities, national or foreign, on the one hand, and the Secretariat of the Treasury and Public Credit (Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público, Mexico's counterpart to the IRS), on the other.

The procedure before this Tribunal is governed by the Federal Act of Contencious-Administrative Procedure (Ley Federal de Procedimiento Contencioso Administrativo).45

IV. Amparo

A. Definition

Mexico's Juicio de Amparo is among the most original, deeply revered, and highly utilized causes of action before Mexican federal courts to protect individuals from laws or public authorities' acts that violate any of the constitutional rights explicitly enunciated in the first twenty-nine articles of that country's Federal Constitution (rights commonly known in that nation as Garantías individuales or individual guarantees).

In other terms, the Juicio de Amparo is a federal lawsuit filed by any individual or corporation (legal entity) (Quejoso or petitioner), whether a national or a foreigner, who challenges the official acts of any authority (federal, state or municipal) (Autoridad responsable or Responsible authority) for considering said acts to be contrary to, or in violation of, the specific rights granted by the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States. This lawsuit aspires to restore and maintain the Principle of Legality.

In the opinion of Drs. Fix Zamudio and Fix Fierro, two of the leading Mexican experts on this matter at UNAM's Legal Research Institute, Juicio de Amparo represents the very last resort, at the appellate level, in most of the judicial and administrative proceedings, and even those of a legislative nature. In this context, it becomes evident that the Amparo oversees and protects the legal order against any violations produced by any authorities, provided that these violations constitute a present, personal, and direct breach or violation inflicted to an individual, whether a person or a corporation.46

B. Controversies governed by Amparo

According to Article 1 of the Organic Act of Articles 103 and 107 of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States (generally known as Amparo Act),

The object of the Juicio de Amparo is to resolve any controversy that arises:

  1. From laws or acts of the authority that violate the individual guarantees;
  2. From laws or acts of the federal authority that harm (Vulneren) or restrict the sovereignty of the States; and
  3. From laws or acts of the States' authorities which invade the sphere of the federal authority.

This federal lawsuit is to be litigated and resolved pursuant to the forms and proceedings determined by the Amparo Act (Ley de Amparo), which governs both the substance and the procedural aspects of this lawsuit. Mexican constitutional law experts are emphatic to assert that the Juicio de Amparo is a very special and complex lawsuit and not merely a procedural appeal or recourse. It is also known as "Juicio de Garantías" (Constitutional guarantees lawsuit).

C. Several Types of Amparo47

Today, the Juicio de Amparo is quite a complex procedural institution that practically protects the entire Mexican legal order, from the highest constitutional provisions to the more modest norms found, for example, in a code of municipal regulations. Taking into account the kind of protected rights and its procedural functions, the Juicio de Amparo may present five distinct facets:

  1. Juicio de Amparo similar to the Habeas corpus. In this sense, this may be called "Amparo for liberty" (Amparo de libertad). The protection may be requested by an individual whose life is threatened by acts of a given authority; an individual detained without a judicial order; an individual who is being deported or being subject to torture, confiscation of assets or any other acts prohibited by Article 22 of the Federal Constitution (Article 17, Amparo Act).
  2. Juicio de Amparo to fight legislative provisions in a general sense (i.e., laws approved by the Congress of the Union and the States' Legislatures, as well as international treaties approved by the Senate and regulations decreed by the President of the Republic, governors of the States, Head of the Federal District and also those produced by municipal authorities, when the victim considers that said provisions go contrary to the Federal Constitution. In this facet, this is known as Amparo contra Leyes (Amparo against laws).
  3. Amparo against Judicial Resolutions (Amparo contra Resoluciones Judiciales). This type of Amparo has a close legal symmetry with the French appeal (Cassation). Its goal is to examine the legality of the resolutions rendered at the last resort by Mexican courts, as prescribed by Article 14 of the Federal Constitution. (Art. 46; 114, paras. III-V; and 85, para. II, Amparo Act, and Art. 37, para. IV, Organic Act of the Federal Power of the Federation).
  4. Juicio de Amparo Contencioso-Administrativo (Administrative Amparo). Utilized to challenge acts and resolutions of the Administration, both at the federal and State levels, due to the lack (until recently) of administrative courts.
  5. Social Agrarian Amparo (Amparo Social Agrario). Established pursuant to some amendments to the Amparo Act in 1963 and 1976, as a special system for the procedural protection of peasants subject to the Agrarian Reform.

D. Juicio de Amparo Judgments.

The purpose of the Amparo judgments is to restore to the victim the recognition and enjoyment of the violated or breached rights, attempting to restore the status quo ante (when possible) when the requested act (Acto reclamado) is a positive one. When it is a negative act, i.e., an omission, the effect is to obligate the sued authority to act and comply with that which was demanded by the victim as a result of the violation (Art. 80, Amparo Act).

The protective judgment must be complied with by the authority who caused the infringement or violation, or incurred in the omission, including those that (although not a party in the lawsuit) must take part in the execution of the judgment, considering that said compliance is to take place within a reasonable period of time. If the responsible authorities do not voluntarily comply with the judgment, the Amparo judge has the power to require them to do it (Arts. 104-107, Amparo Act). Furthermore, if said authorities insist in not complying with the judgment, then the Amparo judge is to send the judicial docket to the Supreme Court of Justice. This highest tribunal has the power to fire the authorities in cases of inexcusable delay or evasive behavior or request the competent organs to initiate a responsibility lawsuit (Juicio de Responsabilidad) when the authorities enjoy constitutional immunity. In certain cases, the Supreme Court may dictate, motu proprio, the substitute enforcement of the judgment (Arts. 107, para. XVI, Federal Constitution, and Arts. 108-113, Amparo Act).

V. Best Mexican Law Web Sites

Given the extraordinary presence Mexican law has acquired before American courts as the applicable "Foreign law," particularly in California, Texas, Illinois, Florida, New York and Washington, D.C.48 over the last years, there has been a growing demand for reliable and authoritative sources (i.e., treatises, law review articles, legislative compilations, dictionaries, etc.) on Mexican law, as these sources are needed by legal practitioners, judges and magistrates, investors and business persons, government officials, librarians, academicians, and law and business students.

Ideally, the easiest way of accessing Mexican law materials would be to have all of them properly translated into English and readily available in our country. However, this is not the case today. The vast and varied statutory and other judicial and legal materials of Mexican law are only found in their original Spanish language. In addition, most of these materials tend to grow every year and all of them are subject to constant or periodic changes. As of this day, relatively few works and materials on Mexican law have appeared in print in English (or bilingual) translations in the United States. (A list of these printed works appears in Appendix One).

As explained in this article, the stare decisis principle does not apply in Mexico. Accordingly, courts and law firms in that country do not need to have the traditional thousands of volumes containing the millions of precedents accumulated through centuries of judicial history like we do in the United States. Accordingly, for Mexican judges and magistrates, legal practitioners, and law professors and students, the most important sources of Mexican law is to have in their hand the applicable code, the statute in force (and its regulations), and a Jurisprudencia (or an Ejecutoria) addressing the legal issue at hand. With these legal tools, probably ninety percent of Mexican law cases may be properly analyzed, discussed, and resolved.

A. Free Internet Access

As part of this Introduction to Mexico's Legal System, a virtual "Mexican Law Library" has been added as the most practical tool for the benefit of all those who are interested in Mexican law (and are fluent in the Spanish language). This library is in Spanish and may be accessed by visiting the web sites posted on the Internet and listed below. These web sites are official sites sponsored by the federal government of Mexico and by each of the States and Federal District.49 The total number of virtual pages included in these fifty web sites may reach some 25,000 pages!

This "Mexican Law Library" is authoritative, current and complete. It is authoritative because the language of each of the legal and legislative materials included in it has been taken either from the Diario Oficial de la Federación (Federal Official Daily, usually cited as D.O. and similar to the Federal Register) or from the respective Official State Gazettes (Gaceta Oficial del Estado). Each code, statute or regulation appears in Word Perfect, Microsoft Word, or ZIP format, and may be downloaded in its entirety or by page numbers.

This virtual library is current because the legal materials presented are the materials in force the day the web site is visited since all the materials are updated on a daily basis. In other words, they are -as the title indicates-: the "Leyes Federales Vigentes" (Federal Statutes in Force). And it is complete because it includes not only 1) federal statutes; but also 2) federal regulations; 3) federal codes; and, 4) federal administrative regulations (A total of 251 federal statutes). In addition, the section titled: Leyes y Poderes Estatales (Laws and State Powers) includes 5) the laws and the political structure of each of the 31 States, with the texts of all of the State codes in each State and other "local" legislation

As part of the section "Leyes Federales Vigentes" the reader may access the complete and current text of 6) the Constitutución Política de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos (Political Constitution of the United Mexican States); as well as 7) Reformas a la Constitución (Amendments to the Constitution); 8) Sumarios de Reformas (Summaries of Amendments); 9) Reformas por Legislature (Amendments to the Federal Constitution by Legislature); 10) Leyes Federales Abrogadas (Federal Laws Repealed); 11) Compilaciones Temáticas (Legal Compilations) which enlists the latest 134 international treaties and conventions, agreements, etc. to which Mexico is a party; 12) Marco Jurídico del Congreso (Legal Framework applicable to the Federal Congress); 13) Leyes Mexicanas, 1687-1866 (Mexican Laws, 1687-1866); and, 14) Indices del Diario Oficial (Indexes of the Federal Official Daily).

B. Internet web sites on "Mexican Law Library"

www.cddhcu.gob.mx

This web site is sponsored by Mexico's Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados) of the Federal Congress (Congreso de la Unión). The main page (but not the materials) may be accessed by clicking in the "English" or "French" button.

This web site contains:

  1. Constitución Política de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos (Political Constitution of the United Mexican States)
  2. Leyes Federales Vigentes (Federal Statutes in Force)

    The list of 231 federal statutes in alphabetical order from Ley Aduanera (Customs Act), Ley Agraria (Agrarian Act) to Ley sobre la Celebración de Tratados (Act regarding the Entering into Treaties).

    More specifically, this section contains, inter alia, the complete and current Spanish texts of these legislative enactments (all in PDF, Microsoft Word or ZIP formats):

    1. Political Constitution of the United Mexican States;
    2. Federal Civil Code;
    3. Code of Commerce;
    4. Code of Military Justice;
    5. Code of Electoral Institutions and Procedures;
    6. Federal Code of Civil Procedure;
    7. Federal Code of Criminal Procedure;
    8. Fiscal Code of the Federation;
    9. Federal Criminal Code; etc.

    With each legislative enactment appears the date of publication in the Diario Oficial.

  3. Reglamentos de las Leyes Federales (Federal Statutes' Regulations): A list of 80 Regulations in alphabetical order
  4. Normas Reglamentarias (Administrative Norms): It contains 174 administrative

    regulations, norms and manuals published in the D.O. since 2002.

  5. Leyes y Poderes Estatales: Web sites of each of the individual States of the Republic of Mexico from Aguascalientes to Zacatecas (and the Distrito Federal) Each State site contains a) General information about the State; b) Congreso del Estado (Congress of the State); c) Poder Judicial del Estado (Judicial Power of the Statedescribing activities of the highest court of the State); d) Leyes Estatales (State laws, including each of the State Codes; and, e) Periódico o Gaceta (Official newspaper or Gazette). The list of each of the 31 web sites of the States, as well as that of the Federal District, appears as Appendix One..

  6. Marco Jurídico del Congreso (Legal framework of the Federal Congress:

    Sessions, committees and its members, legislative debates, legislation approval, etc.

  7. Compilaciones Temáticas (Legal Compilations): Actually, this section contains

    the list of 134 international treaties and conventions to which Mexico is a party (The complete and more detailed list is posted on the web site of Mexico's Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores (Secretariat of Foreign Affairs or SRE) at www.sre.gob.mx

  8. Leyes Mexicanas 1687-1866 (Mexican Laws, 1687-1866).

    This section reproduces the classical multi-volume compilation by Montiel y Dublán. (This section was prepared under the auspices of the Program for Library and Archives in Latin America, financed by Harvard University); and

  9. Indices del Diario Oficial (Federal Official Daily's Indexes). It covers 2006 and 2007. Under Mexican law, each and every legislative enactment must appear in print in the Diario Oficial indicating the date when said enactment is to enter into force. The D.O. reproduces the official text of each legislative enactment.

  10. Biblioteca Legislativa (Centro de Documentación, Información y Análisis).

    This Center provides library and information services on matters pertaining to the Congress of the Union, legislation, legal questions, history of Mexico, etc. The library catalogue may be accessed online by author or subject matter. It also assists those seeking information about the Federal Congress, the Chamber of Deputies, legislative bills, etc.

www.scjn.gob.mx

This web site is sponsored by the Supreme Court of Mexico and it provides information on the work and resolutions of the Council of the Federal Judiciary and the Electoral Court of the Judicial Power of the Federation. In addition, this site contains information about the Supreme Court Justices, the Court's Proposal for the Judicial Reform in Mexico, annual reports by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, judicial activities in the States, etc.

In addition, the reader should know that the Supreme Court of Mexico has produced a long Catálogo de Publicaciones y Discos (Catalogue of Publications and CDs)50 on a) Jurisprudence by Contradiction of Thesis; b) Jurisprudence of the Supreme Court, 1917-2007; c) Relevant Decisions of the Supreme Court of Mexico; d) Essays and Lectures; e) Judicial Reform, etc. All of these publications and CDs may be acquired directly from the Supreme Court's Dirección General de la Coordinación y Sistematización de Tesis, Pino Suárez No. 2, Colonia Centro, Puerta 1018, Planta Baja, C.P. 06065 or via phone: (011-525) 5130-1171, 5522-5097 or switchboard: 5522-1500, Extensions 2280, 2031, 2038 and 1171. Or by fax: (011-525) 5130-1127 or e-mail: ventas@mail.scjn.gob.mx

www.presidencia.gob.mx

This web site is sponsored by the Presidency of the Republic headed by Lic. Felipe Calderón Hinojosa. In addition to providing daily information on President Calderón's activities and associated events, it gives access to the President's activities and speeches, his Cabinet, Press Releases, etc. including the full text of his First Government Report and his National Development Plan.

Accessing this web site leads to the web sites of the nineteen federal agencies (Secretarías de Estado) which compose Mexico's Federal Public Administration, namely: 1) Secretaría de Gobernación (Segob: Political matters, immigration, and national security); 2) Secretaría de Seguridad Pública (SSP: Public security); 3) Procuraduría General de la República (PGR: Attorney General's Office, extradition); 4) Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional (Sedena: National defense, Army, drugs); 5) Secretaría de Economía (SE: National economy, NAFTA, trade); 6) Secretaría de la Función Pública (SFP: Administrative coordination); 7) Secretaría de Marina/Armada de México (Semar: Mexican Navy); 8) Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público (SHCP: Treasury, finances, and taxes (Mexico's IRS); 9) Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores (SRE: Foreign affairs, diplomatic service, treaties, and international agreements, extradition); 10) Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes (SCT: Communications, transportation, radio and TV); 11) Secretaría de Turismo (Sectur: tourism and FONATUR); 12) Secretaría de Energía (Sener: Energy and oil); 13) Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentación (Sagarpa: Agriculture, livestock, rural development, fishing, and food); 14) Secretaría de Desarrollo Social (Sedesol: Social development); 15) Secretaría de Educación Pública (SEP: Public and private education, colleges, and universities); 16) Secretaría de la Reforma Agraria (SRA: Agrarian reform, "Ejidos"); 17) Secretaría de Salud (Salud: Health, well-being, and pharmaceuticals); 18) Secretaría del Trabajo y Previsión Social (STPS: Labor, strikes, minimum wages); and, 19)Secretaría del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (Semarnat: Environmental protection, natural resources, global warming, and hazardous materials). The individual web site of each of these federal agencies provide additional legal information regarding the specific area of activities. Appendix Two contains the individual web sites of these agencies.

www.juridicas.unan.mx

This web site is sponsored by the Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas (IIJ: Legal Research Institute) of Mexico's National Autonomous University (UNAM) which is the largest and most prestigious legal research institute in Latin America and has been a part of UNAM for sixty years. The IIJ has the largest number of researchers and it possesses the most important and largest Mexican law library in its installations at UNAM in Mexico's Ciudad Universitaria. The IIJ is open to legal practitioners, judges and magistrates, academicians and law students from Mexico and abroad. The IIJ has published a large collection of publications and CDs on a multitude of Mexican law topics. Periodically, it also organizes seminars and conferences on current and important topics of Mexican law.

Through its Navegador Jurídico Internacional, the IIJ has well classified legal information and materials at the domestic and international level, on: a) Mexico's government; b) Legislación y Jurisprudencia (Legislation and Jurisprudence); c) International organizations; d) Law Schools; d) Other legal research institutes, etc. Its collection of Diarios Oficiales dates back to 1890, including the State gazettes, dailies and other official publications of Mexico's 32 political entities (i.e., 31 States and the Federal District). The IIJ has created a Biblioteca Jurídica Virtual (Virtual Legal Library) that may be accessed on line.

The Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas de la UNAM may be contacted by phone: (011-525) 5622-7474 or 5622-5478 or by fax: (011-525) 5665-2193. Its mailing address is: Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas de la UNAM, Circuito Maestro Mario de la Cueva s/n, Ciudad Universitaria, CP 04510, México, D.F., Mexico City.

www.mexlaw.com

This web site is in English and is sponsored by the author of this article. It contains a Mexican synopsis of Mexican law, an Electronic Guide to Mexican Law Web Sites, and information about the author's books and articles.

VI. Conclusions

The legal origins of Mexican law can be traced back to the establishment of Villa de la Vera Cruz by Hernán Cortés in 1819. Undoubtedly, this constitutes the oldest legal act in the western hemisphere, not to refer to the ancient customary normative systems formulated and practiced by the numerous Indigenous peoples that populated -and continue to inhabit- the territory of what it is known today as Mexico. Despite tragedy and violence, Mexico continues to be the nation in this part of the world with the largest number of different types of Indigenous peoples.

It becomes increasingly evident, as time goes by, that the geographical contiguity of Mexico to the United States has proven to be one of the most influential factors in the formation, transformation and progressive development of Mexican law. The powerful economic forces present in the close relationships between these neighboring countries, and the growing links and the eventual emergence and disappearance of family networks that constantly take place between the populations of both nations, represent a most significant force not only in the strengthening of the Mexican economy but in the shaping in the social fabric of both countries and in the crafting of a constantly changing Mexican law.

The progress Mexico has accomplished over the last decade in a number of areas of its domestic law has been remarkable. Special attention should be given to the progress made in family law, human rights, environmental protection, foreign trade, electoral law, privacy rights, political transparency, organized crime and extradition, intellectual property, and respect for constitutional rights in criminal proceedings. It has also been laudable the unwavering support given to oral trials in criminal law, very much patterned after similar developments that took place in Europe during the 1990s, particularly in Spain.51 However, other areas are crying for modernization and transparency, in particular those associated with the administration of justice in civil, criminal and labor matters. The success that the Council of the Federal Judiciary has been achieving with federal courts and especially in the training and development of federal judges has to be somewhat extended to include state courts and state judges.

Probably the relative prominence that Mexican law is beginning to acquire in certain parts of our country -notably in the Southwest and in California, Illinois, New York and Washington, D.C.- clearly suggests that this is a trend that is likely to become stronger and much wider in the years to come.

Appendix One

MEXICO'S STATE WEB SITES

Aguascalientes - www.aguascalientes.gob.mx

Baja California - www.congresobc.gob.mx

Baja California Sur - www.gbcs.gob.mx

Campeche - www.campeche.gob.mx

Chiapas - www.chiapas.gob.mx

Chihuahua - www.chihuahua.gob.mx

Coahuila - www.coahuila.gob.mx

Durango - www.durango.gob.mx

Estado de México - gem.edomexico.gob.mx/portalgem

Guanajuato - www.guanajuato.gob.mx

Guerrero - No legal materials available.

Hidalgo - www.hidalgo.gob.mx

Jalisco - www.jalisco.gob.mx

Michoacán - www.michoacan.gob.mx

Morelos - www.morelos.gob.mx

Nayarit - www.nayarit.gob.mx

Nuevo León - www.portal.nl.gob.mx

Oaxaca - www.oaxaca.gob.mx

Puebla - www.puebla.gob.mx

Querétaro - www.queretaro.gob.mx

Quintana Roo - www.quintanaroo.gob.mx

San Luis Potosí - www.sanluispotosi.gob.mx

Sinaloa - www.sinaloa.gob.mx

Sonora - www.sonora.gob.mx

Tabasco - www.tabasco.gob.mx

Tamaulipas - www.tamaulipas.gob.mx

Tlaxcala - www.tlaxcala.gob.mx

Veracruz - www.veracruz.gob.mx

Yucatán - www.yucatan.gob.mx

Zacatecas - www.zacatecas.gob.mx

Appendix Two

MEXICO'S FEDERAL AGENCIES

Agrarian Reform (SRA) - (Reforma Agraria) - www.sra.gob.mx

Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fishing and Food (SAGARPA) - (Agricultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentación) - ganaderia.sagarpa.gob.mx

Communications and Transport (SCT) - (Comunicaciones y Transportes) - www.sct.gob.mx/inicio

Economy (SE) - (Economía) - www.economia.gob.mx

Energy (SENER) - (Energía) - www.energia.gob.mx/wb/distribuidor.jsp?seccion=1

Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) - (Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales)

www.precisa.gob.mx/index/php?Direcotrio=precisa&viewCat=392

Foreign Affairs (SRE) - (Relaciones Exteriores) - www.sre.gob.mx

Health (SSA) - (Salud) - www.precisa.gob.mx

Interior (SEGOB) - (Gobernación) - www.gobern...

Labor and Social Welfare (STPS) - (Trabajo y Previsión Social) - www.precisa.gob.mx

National Defense (SEDENA) - (Defensa Nacional) - www.sedena.gob.mx

Navy (SEMAR) - (Marina Armada de México) - www.semar.gob.mx

Public Education (SEP) - (Educación Pública) - www.sep.gob.mx/wb2/

Public Function (SFP) - (Función Pública) - www.funcionpublica.gob.mx

Public Security and Justice Services (SPSJ) - (Seguridad Pública y Servicios de Justicia) -

www.precisa.gob.mx

Social Development (SEDESOL) - (Desarrollo Social) - www.sedesol.gob.mx/index/main.htm

Tourism (SECTUR) - (Turismo) - www.turismo.gob.mx

Treasury and Public Credit (SHCP) - (Hacienda y Crédito Público) - www.precisa.gob.mx

Attorney General's Office (PGR) - (Procuraduría General de la República) - www.pgr.gob.mx

Footnotes

1 See Jorge A. Vargas. The Emerging Presence of Mexican Law in California Courts. 7 San Diego International Law Journal (Fall 2005) at 215-221. For a general overview of Mexican law, see also, by the same author, An Introductory Lesson to Mexican Law: From Constitutions and Codes to Legal Culture and NAFTA. 41 San Diego Int'l L.J. (Summer 2004) at 1337-1372.

2 Franklin L. Lavin, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, International Trade Association, Speech at the American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico City: Improving U.S.- Mexican Competitiveness (May 8, 2007).

3 Interestingly, the need of becoming familiar with Mexican law is running in parallel with the convenience of learning Spanish so legal practitioners can communicate in this language with their Mexican (and other Latino) clients. Over the last few years, certain law schools -such as the University of San Diego School of Law and Thomas Jefferson (both in San Diego) and the University of Denver College of Law- are including courses on "Legal Spanish" in their academic curricula.

4 For an overview of over 42 major Mexican law areas involving corporate, international business transactions and conflict of laws, see Jorge A. Vargas (Ed.). Mexican Law: A Treatise for Legal Practitioners and International Investors (West Group), 4 vol. (1998 and 2001).

5 See Juan Manzano y Manzano. Historia de las Recopilaciones de Indias (History of the Compilations of the Indies). Ediciones de Cultura Hispánica, Madrid (1956). See also José Luis Soberanes. Historia del Derecho Mexicano (History of Mexican Law). Porrúa, México (2006) at 67-91; Oscar Cruz Barney. Historia del Derecho Mexicano Oxford Univ. Press, México (1999), pp. 1-31; and Stephen Zamora et al. Mexican Law. Oxford Univ. Press (2004) at 1-42.

6 Demographers estimate that the country's population at the time of the Spanish conquest in the early 1500s consisted of some 20 million. By 1600, however, barely one million remained, the result of deadly European diseases and brutal treatment of the indigenous peoples by the Spanish colonizers. At the onset of the Mexican revolution in 1910, Mexico's population stood at some 15 million people. Not until 1940 did Mexico reach the population level it had in 1519. Mexico: Library of Congress Country Studies, Washington, D.C. (1996).

7 See, for example, Articles 2-4, 18-21, 27, 41, 89, 99-100, 122, and 123.

8 The official web site of the Chamber of Deputies: www.cddhcu.gob.mx as well as that of the Senate: www.senado.gob.mx contain valuable information about the legislative activities taking place within each Chamber, such as the text of legislative bills, discussion and approval, publication of laws and decrees, and information about individual congressmen. In addition, both web sites give access to all of the official Spanish text of codes, statutes, and regulations in force in Mexico today.

9 Organic Act of the Federal Judicial Power, as published in the D.O. of Nov. 7, 1996 (as amended, inter alia, by D.O. of Feb. 14, 2006). See, as a historical legal background, J.A. Vargas. The Rebirth of the Supreme Court of Mexico: An Appraisal of President Zedillo's Judicial Reform of 1995. 11:2 American Univ. Journal of International Law and Policy (1996) 295-341.

10 Amparo Act, published in the D.O. of Jan. 10, 1936 (as amended, inter alia, by D.O. of April 24, 2006)

11 Federal Code of Civil Procedure, published in the D.O. of Feb. 24, 1943, as amended, inter alia, by D.O. of Dec. 18, 2002.

12 Federal Act of administrative Procedure, published in the D.O. of Aug. 4, 1994, as amended, inter alia, by D.O. of May 30, 2000.

13 Reglamentary Act of Paras. I and II of Article 105 of the Federal Constitution, published in the D.O. of May 11, 1995 (as amended by D.O. of Nov. 22, 1996).

14 For a codifying work containing all the Mexican independence legal and constitutional documents, see Tena Ramírez, supra note 18, at 28 and 32, respectively.

15 Jorge A. Vargas. The Constitution of Mexico. Mexican Law. A Treatise for Legal Practitioners and International Investors. West Group (1998), §2.5 A Programmatic, Aspirational and Readily Amendable Public Document, Vol. 1 at 38, 42-45.

16 Ibid., §2.4 The Creation of "Social Law," Vol. 1 at 40-42.

17 Black's Law Dictionary (1979) at 767.

18 Pursuant to Article 15 of the Organic Act of the Judicial Power of the Federation (Ley Orgánica del Poder Judicial de la Federación, published in the Diario Oficial of May 26, 1995 as last amended February 14, 2006), the Supreme Court of Justice has two chambers (Salas) each formed by five Justices, sufficing four Justices to function. Article 21 of said Act -closely patterned after the U.S. Federal Judicial Act of 1789- details the numerous attributions of the chambers.

19 See André Tunc and Suzanne Tunc. Le Droit des États-Unis d'Amérique. Sources et Techniques. Paris (1956), §116 at 305.

20 See supra note 23 and the accompanying text and Article 76, para I, of the Federal Constitution for the exclusive faculties of the Senate.

21 P. LXXVII/99, Amparo en revisión 1475/98. Semanario Judicial de la Federación (Federal Judicial Weekly), Ninth Epoch, Vol. X, November 1999 at 46 (Emphasis added).

22 For an idea of areas regulated by federal legislation, see supra the section titled: A. Legislative Power.

23 In its web site: www.cddhcu.gob.mx the Chamber of Deputies of the Federal Congress (referred to as Congreso de la Unión or Congress of the Union) provides free access to the complete and current texts in Spanish of 251 legislative enactments (laws, codes, statutes, Acts, decrees, etc.) and 80 regulations, with date of publication and text to be downloaded in PDF, Word or Zip. Indeed, this is the most complete free library of Mexican legislation.

24 For a discussion of the history and content of this code, see Jorge A. Vargas. The Federal Civil Code of Mexico. 36 Inter-American Law Review (Winter/Spring 2005) at 229-247. For an English translation of this code, see Mexican Civil Code Annotated. Bilingual Edition. Thomson/West (2005), annotated with precedents rendered by Mexico's Supreme Court and Circuit Collegiate Courts.

25 Published in the D.O. of May 29, 2000.

26 See Jorge A. Vargas. Family Law in Mexico: A Detailed Look into Marriage and Divorce. 9 Southwestern Journal of Law and Trade in the Americas (2002) at 5-20.

27 D.O. of February 24, 1924, as amended by D.O. of January 7, 1988, and more recently on May 29, 2000 and December 18, 2002.

28 For a detailed discussion of this new section of the Code, see Jorge A. Vargas. Conflict of Laws Rules in the Federal Code of Civil Procedure (forthcoming 2008).

29 D.O. of December 15, 1929, as later amended by D.O. of August 14, 1931.

30 A Commission formed by Alfonso Teja Zabre, Luis Garrido, Ernesto G. Garza, José Angel Cisneros, José López Lira, and Carlos Angeles, prepared the code, which was published in the D.O. on August 14, 1931.

31 D.O. of February 6, 2002.

32 For an English translation of this code, see Mexican Commercial Code Annotated. Bilingual Edition. Thomson/West (2005), annotated with precedents rendered by Mexico's Supreme Court and Circuit Collegiate Courts.

33 The current text of the Code of Commerce (jointly with the complete texts in Spanish of all of the other federal Codes, and even the corresponding State versions) are available at the web site of the Chamber of Deputies (and of the Senate) at www.cddhcu.gob.mx

34 See Carmen Cordero Avendaño de Durand. Contribución al Estudio del Derecho Consuetudinario Triqui (Constibution to the Study of the Triqui Customary Law). Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos, México, D.F. (1995); Magdalena Gómez (Ed.). Derecho Indígena (Indian Law). INI, México (1997); and José Ramón Cossío Díaz et al. Derecho y Cultura Indígena (Law and Indigenous Culture). M.A. Porrúa, México (1998).

35 Third Collegiate Court, Amparo directo October 2, 1997. Federal Judicial weekly, Ninth Epoch, Vol. VII, June 1998, page 692 (Isolated thesis); and Supreme Court, Fourth Chamber, Federal Judicial Weekly, Fifth Epoch, Vol. CXXI, page 2552 (Isolated thesis).

36 See the section devoted to "The Federal Judicial Power," supra.

37 Article 1, Organic Act of the Judicial Power of the Federation.

38 Article 105, Federal Constitution.

39 Please refer to the specific article of the Organic Act of the Judicial Power of the Federation (D.O. of May 26, 1995, as amended) for the specific type of jurisdiction of the District judge in question.

40 The Federal Code of Civil Procedure was published in the D.O. of February 24, 1943, and it has been amended several times. This Code governs matters pertaining to international judicial cooperation, letters rogatory, enforcement of U.S. (and other foreign) judgments and arbitral awards, etc. See Jorge A. Vargas. Conflict of Laws. Mexican Law Treatise, supra note 4, Vol. 2 at 241-273.

41 Arts. 56-67, Ibid.

42 Arts. 184-186, Id.

43 For their composition, jurisdiction, powers and obligations, see Articles 604-620, Federal Labor Act.

44 Articles 621-624, Ibid.

45 Published in the D.O. of December 1, 2005.

46 See Héctor Fix Zamudio and Héctor Fix Fierro. "Amparo. " Nuevo Diccionario Jurídico Mexicano (New Mexican Legal Dictionary). Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas, Ed. Porrúa-UNAM, México, 1998, Vol. I at 180.

47 These five characterizations are reproduced (and summarized) from Drs. Fix Zamudio and Fix Fierro, supra note 1 at 181-186.

48 See Vargas, supra note 1.

49 Jorge A. Vargas. Electronic Guide to the Best Mexican Law Web Sites. 32 International Journal of Legal Information (Spring 2004) at 34-108; also posted at www.LLRX.com

50 Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación. Catálogo de Publicaciones y Discos. México, D.F. (Mayo 2007).

51 Jorge A. Vargas. Jury Trials in Spain: A Description and Analysis of the 1995 Organic Act and a Preliminary Appraisal of the Barcelona Trial. 18 New York Law School Journal of International and Comparative Law (1999) at 181-232.