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Researching Chilean Law   Tags: chile, foreign  

Last Updated: Dec 7, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Chile, like other Latin American nations, follows the civil law tradition.  Civil law, which has its roots in Roman law, features reliance on codified law, rather than precedential case law.  A helpful introduction to the civil law tradition is noted below. 

In general, locating and then interpreting sources of Chilean law can be challenging, particularly for non-Spanish speaking researchers.  Keep in mind that, when approaching a question related to Chilean law (or foreign law generally), it is often advantageous to start with a secondary source.  There are several online guides in English that can serve as introductions to understanding and researching Chilean law. These resources are listed at right.

Presidential Address at Columbia University (2015)

On September 26, 2015, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet spoke on the topic of "Challenges of Our Democracy: 25 Years After" at Columbia University's Law Library. The video is posted on YouTube

Chilean President to Speak at ASIL

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet will be one of the keynote speakers at the American Society of International Law's annual meeting in Washington, DC at the end of March. The theme of the meeting is "Charting New Frontiers in International Law."

NACLA Report on the Americas

The Fall 2013 issue of NACLA Report on the Americas is dedicated to the topic of "Chile 40 Years Later:  The Politics of Memory and the Memory of Politics.”  LUC patrons may gain access to this issue via the LUC Libraries' subscription database, Academic Search Premier

Understanding Civil Law


An excellent introduction to civil law systems is available via the WWW link listed below. Other books on civil law may be located using the LUC Libraries' online catalog (see the "Books" tab for more info).

Chile's Legal Reforms

Chilean law professors Hugo Rojas and Rafael Blanco of the Universidad Alberto Hurtado, and Loyola adjunct law professor Richard Hutt, wrote an excellent article in English about Chile's criminal justice reforms:

Rafael Blanco, Richard Hutt, & Hugo Rojas, Reform to the Criminal Justice System in Chile:  Evaluation and Challenges,"  2.2 LOY. U. CHI. INT'L L. REV.  253 (2004-2005).


    Introductions to Chilean Law and Researching Chilean Law

    There are several websites that provide introductions to Chilean law and Chilean legal research.  Note that a number of U.S. law libraries offer webliographies for Chile.  Try Googling "legal research" and "Chile" to locate these pages.  See also the "Databases" tab for information on several commercial databases that also provide introductions and descriptions of Chilean law and legal resources.

    • Digital Landscape in South America: Chile
      This is a comprehensive webliography of Chilean legal resources available in digital format. The annotated list includes links to various portals, legislation by topic (primarily in Spanish), court sites, and secondary material. Compiled by librarians at the Lillian Goldman Law Library (Yale University).
    • GlobaLex: Essential Issues of the Chilean Legal System
      Published in May 2010, the article provides a general overview of the Chilean legal system, including an explanation of the various types of legislation. Information sources on Chilean law are also provided, including lists of Chilean law journals, legal blogs, and law schools. Authors of the article are Sergio Endress, Fernando Fernández-Acevedo, and Radoslov Depolo, all Chilean attorneys.
    • International Team Project: Chile
      This LibGuide was prepared for Northwestern Law School faculty and students who travelled to Chile during the spring semester of 2013.

    The Chile Reader

    Published in 2013, this book is a compilation of essays on the history, culture, and politics of Chile. Essay authors include Pablo Neruda, Gabriela Mistral, Andrés Bello, Salvador Allende, and Patricio Aylwin.  One chapter is dedicated to "Returning to Democracy:  Transition and Community." 

    Cover Art
    The Chile Reader - Elizabeth Quay Hutchison (Editor); Thomas Miller Klubock (Editor); Nara B. Milanich (Editor); Peter Winn (Editor)
    Call Number: Law Main Stacks F3081 .C485 2014
    ISBN: 9780822353461
    Publication Date: 2013-11-29


    Thanks to a generous donation, the Law Library has purchased several DVDs related to events in Chile: 


    The 2008 PBS documentary, The Judge and the General, follows Chilean judge Juan Guzmán’s investigations of two criminal cases brought against former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet.  The first case focused on the 1973 death of Manuel Donoso, a sociology professor who was killed near Arica, Chile as part of Pinochet’s infamous “Caravan of Death.”  The first volume of the investigative dossier of this case is held in the Law Library’s Dan K. Webb Rare Books Room.  The second case chronicled in the film involved the disappearance of Cecilia Castro, a young Chilean law student and political activist.  For more information on the film and its creators, Elizabeth Farnsworth and Patricio Lanfranco, see



    No is a 2012 Chilean film, directed by Pablo Larraín, starring Gael García Bernal.  The film depicts the advertising campaign utilized during the 1988 plebiscite held to decide whether Augusto Pinochet should be granted another 8-year term as President.  In 2013, No was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. 


    Both films are currently held on permanent reserve behind the Circulation Desk.


    Chilean Materials in the Dan K. Webb Rare Books Room

    The Loyola University Chicago School of Law currently sponsors a formal exchange program with the Law School of the Universidad Alberto Hurtado (UAH) in Santiago, Chile.  Each year, several UAH law faculty and students visit Chicago, and a seminar class from Loyola travels to Santiago during Spring Break. 

    Since the program's inception, UAH has periodically donated items related to Chilean law to the Law Library.  Grouped together as the "Universidad Alberto Hurtado Collection," these materials are housed in the Rare Books Room, and currently total over 20 items.  The items, which are primarily in Spanish, range from copies of UAH Law School periodicals, to an investigative dossier of former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet. 

    Use of the materials in the "Universidad Alberto Hurtado Collection" is limited to Loyola Law School faculty, staff, current students, and alumni.  Individuals wishing to review any of the UAH items are asked to call the Reference Desk at 312.915.7205 to schedule an appointment.

    Online Translators

    English translations of Latin American legal materials are often difficult to locate and can be unreliable.  Only in rare instances are authoritative English translations available.  If authoritative versions are not available, look for "official" translations that are created by, or for, a government organization.  Further, look for synoptic translations, which allow for side-by-side comparisons of the vernacular with the English translation.  Some types of Latin American legal materials are translated into English more often than others, such as those pertaining to commercial law. 

    Many online translators are available on the WWW, but these should be used with caution since web translators do not generally include specialized legal or commercial vocabulary.  Online translators, however, may be of some help in getting the general sense of a document or passage.  Examples of WWW translators are:


    Subject Guide

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    Julienne Grant
    Contact Info
    Philip H. Corboy Law Center
    Loyola Law Library
    25 E. Pearson
    Room 321
    Send Email

    Chilean Contract Law


    PowerPoint Presentations

    The first PowerPoint accompanied a talk on Chilean legal research given at the American Association of Law Libraries Annual Meeting in Seattle on July 16, 2013.  The speaker was Sergio Stone, Robert Crown Law Library, Stanford University. (Posted with permission.)

    The second presentation is an edited version of the PowerPoint that was prepared for the LUC Law School course, "Comparative Law Seminar:  Legal Systems in the Americas."


    Print Research Guide

    Prepared in the summer of 2009, updated in February 2012, this 23-page guide offers instructions and tips on how to research foreign, comparative, and international law at the LUC Law Library.  The annotated guide lists print reference sources, subscription databases, free websites, and current awareness sources that may be useful when approaching foreign, comparative, and international law questions.


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