1833 - 1833

Portuguese Commercial Code by José Ferreira Borges

In 1833, King Dom Pedro IV approved, by the Decree of 18th September, the Portuguese Commercial Code, written by José Ferreira Borges following the Letter of Law of 18th February 1823, which invited “…any portuguese sage…” to submit a draft commercial code.
Considered the most perfect legal work of the time, it was the result of extensive research and confrontation with commercial codes of other countries (especially Belgian and French), thus bringing Portuguese law, in the commercial field, closer to what was happening abroad. Replacing a dispersed and confused order of legal relationships established in commercial activities, it intended to facilitate the practice of the principle of commercial freedom, determining the rights and obligations of traders.
In this first Commercial Code published in Portugal and which constituted the legal basis for commercial life, a clear distinction was made between land trade (Part One, from Articles 1 to 1286) and maritime trade (Part Two, from Articles 1287 to 1860).
The discipline of the insurance contract appears in Title XIV (in the part concerning maritime commerce), beginning by defining it as “…a contract by which the insurer obliges himself to the insured, against a premium, to compensate him for loss or damage, or the deprivation of an expected profit, which he may suffer for an uncertain event.” Also, in the same Title it was established, in a broader way, the objects susceptible of insurance: risks of sea, of transport by land or water, of fire, of crops by bad weather of seasons, of captivity, the life span of one or more individuals.
Risk contracts and breakdowns in general are dealt with in Titles XIII and XV, respectively.


King Dom Pedro IV’s Decree, on behalf of the Queen, approving the Portuguese Commercial Code Lisbon, 18th September 1833


Image caption
Portrait extracted from “Wikipédia – José Ferreira Borges”


Document caption
“Chronica Constitucional de Lisboa”, nº 58, de 1 outubro de 1833
Image provided by ANTT