Chapter 1. General Provisions (Title I, Book III, Civil Code)

Article 37. Juridical capacity, which is the fitness to be the subject of legal relations, is inherent in every natural person and is lost only through death. Capacity to act, which is the power to do acts with legal effect, is acquired and may be lost.


1) Definitions.

a. Juridical capacity – “is the fitness to be the subject of legal relations.” (Article 37, Civil Code)

b. Capacity to act – “is the power to do acts with legal effects.” (Ibid.)

2) Contrast: Juridical Capacity v. Capacity to Act. Juridical capacity is passive in the sense that a person may be the subject/recipient under the law without necessarily having the legal capacity. On the other hand, capacity to act is active in the sense that a persons’ act or omission may produce legal effects. For example, minors are not able to enter into contracts but they may be the recipient if there are stipulations in their favor – because they have juridical capacity. When they become adults, they can enter into contracts which will produce legal effects– because they now have capacity to act.

3) Cross-reference. Article 37 should be read with Article 40. (See further discussions below.)

Article 38. Minority, insanity or imbecility, the state of being a deaf-mute, prodigality and civil interdiction are mere restrictions on capacity to act, and do not exempt the incapacitated person from certain obligations, as when the latter arise from his acts or from property relations, such as easements.


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