Philippine Legal System

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Table of Contents in the Asian Legal Encyclopedia

Philippine Legal System in Asia

The Philippines (official name: Republic of the Philippines) is situated in Southeast Asia (in the western Pacific Ocean). The legal system of Philippines is, as most of the countries of Asia, mixed (Common law + Civil law). It has also Customary law and Islamic law. Therefore, the country has a legal system of Civil, Common, Islamic, and Customary law.

Legal Research in Philippines: a Guide for Lawyers

In a globalized world, lawyers outside Philippines may come into contact with Philippine law, Philippine lawyers or Philippine clients, and the last would be better served when their lawyers have an understanding of the essential characteristics and aspects of the Philippine legal system. Likewise, in researching Philippine law, it is important for non-Philippine lawyers not to limit their inquiry to their country sources. In addition, instead of looking for precedents, in Philippines lawyers browse first the provisions of the corresponding legislation for an appropriate legal principle applied to the case or Philippine law problem.

Any serious legal issue involving Philippines must require consultation with a lawyer trained and licensed in Philippines. International materials and resources, like this Encyclopedia, however, may provide some familiarity with the basic concepts of the Philippine law, a solid starting point and new perspectives and solutions that are not apparent, sometimes, from within a non-Philippine legal tradition. Their study may help the non-Philippine lawyer to determine the general nature of a problem, and can facilitate a better understanding with the Philippine colleague who may be called in to assist.

Where to Start

General Information about Philippines and their Legal Tradition

Philippines and their People

Read about Philippines and their People here.

Historical Background of Philippines

Overview of the history of Philippines.

Legal Education

Offering a summary of the legal education, including law schools , in Philippines.

Development of Philippine Law

Report on the development of the law in Philippines.

Structures of Philippine Law

It offers a description of the structures of the law in Philippines.

Sources of the Philippine Law

Summary of the sources of Law in Philippines.

Historical Background

More about the history of the Philippine law here.

Enacted Law in Philippines

Read more about the legislation in Philippines.

  • The Philippine Constitution

Learn more about the Constitution of Philippines.

  • Philippines Codes and Statutes

Survey of Philippine Codes and Statutes.

  • Philippines Statutory Decrees

Outline of the Philippines Statutory Decrees.

  • Philippines Regulations

Scope of the Regulations enacted in Philippines.

  • Philippines By-Laws

Observation about the By-Laws in existence in Philippines.

Customary Law

Learn more about the customary law of Philippines.

Case Law as a Source of Law

Analysis of the Case Law in Philippines.

Precedents in Philippines

Evaluation of the role of Precedents in the Philippine legal system.

Doctrine in Philippines

Review of the legal Doctrine in Philippines.

International sources of law

See more about the international sources of law in Philippines and Asia, including International Treaties.

The Philippine Government System

Study of the Government system in existence in Philippines.

Philippine Constitutional Structure

Overview of the Constitutional Structure in Philippines.

Historical Background

Read more about the history of the Government System of the country.

General Characteristics of the Constitution

Constitution of Philippines: the main features.

Human Rights in Philippines

Scope of the Civil and Human rights in the country.

Legislative Branch

The legislative branch proposes laws. Find a description of the Legislative Power in Philippines here.

Structure of the Philippine Legislative Branch

Observation of the structure of the legislative power in Philippines.

Functions and Powers

See more about the role of the legislative power in Philippines here.

Legislative Process

Read how the Philippine legislative procedures work here.

Supervision of the Executive

Learn how the legislative branch supervises the executive branch.

Executive Branch

The executive power proposes laws. Read more.

Head of State in Philippines

The head of state of Philippines is the formal head of the executive, legislature and judiciary of Philippines.

Head of Government in Philippines

The head of government in Philippines is the Prime Minister of Philippines, the political leader of the government of Philippines.

Philippine Council of Ministers

See information about the Cabinet Ministers of Philippines here.

Philippine Local Governments

Review of the local government powers in Philippines. See the definition of local rule here.

Local Organizations of Central Administration

The central administration consists of a number of ministries and other organizations, including local ones. Various departments, offices and divisions are established in each ministry in Philippines. See the definition of centralization here.

Philippine Municipalities

Outlook of the cities, towns, villages and other communities, including municipal courts (when applicable), and their legal authority in Philippines.

Judiciary Branch

The judiciary power interprets and applies laws. Find here a review of the Judicial System in Philippines.

Main Features of the Judiciary

Read the most important characteristics of the Judiciary system in Philippines here.

Philippines Judicial Structure

Report of the Court Organization and Jurisdiction in Philippines.
The Courts in Philippines may be divided into:

  • High Courts

Description of the functioning of high courts in Philippines.

  • Lower Courts

Summary of the roles of courts of lesser rank.


Information about rules that influence sentencing in Philippines.

Participants in the Administration of Justice

Survey about the players in the Administration of Justice in Philippines and other countries.


Information about the impartial administration of justice, the independence and status of the judiciary and other issues related to Judges in Philippines.

Public Prosecutors

The role of those government officials who represent, in Philippines, legal authorities (often prosecuting criminal actions in Philippines and Asia).

The practice of law

More about the practice of law in Philippines and Asia.

The legal professions

Outline of the legal professions in Philippines and Asia.

Practitioners (Lawyers and others)

Learn about the legal role of practitioners, specially lawyers.

Notary-Public in Philippines

Overview about Public Notaries practising in Philippines.

Court reporter – Clerks

Overview of Court reporters and Clerks in Philippine and Asian courthouses.

Civil Law Procedure

Outlook of the main features of the Philippine civil process, including:

Pretrial Proceedings in Philippines

Information about what pretrial proceedings consist of.

The Trial in Philippines

Review of the judicial examinations in civil or criminal actions in Philippines.

Civil Litigation

Overview of the steps of litigation in Philippines, the litigator’s role and the types of civil litigation in the country here.


Evidence law outline in Philippines.

The Judgment

Outlook of the tribunal decisions in Philippines. For Judgments which are of significance as legal precedents on points of law in Philippines, see precedents.

The Effect of the Judgment

Overview of effects and recognition of a valid judgment delivered by a court of competent jurisdiction in Philippines.

Legal Remedies in Philippines

Enforcement of a legal right ordered by the court. See also the Judicial Relief definition.

Appeals – Judicial Review

Description of the Appeals process and the Judicial Review process of challenging the lawfulness of decisions in Philippines.

Criminal Law Procedure

Observation of the Criminal Process.

The Investigation of Crime

Scope of the investigation of crimes:

The Prosecution of Crime

Crime Prosecution.

Criminal Trials in Philippines

Laws and rules of the administration of justice when a person has been accused of a crime.

Appeals – Judicial Review

When a party files an appeal, asking to review the case:

Alternative Dispute Resolution in Philippines

Method of resolving disputes out-of-court (ADR).

Private Law

Family Law in Philippines

Guide to Marriage Law, Succession Law and other Family Law topics in Philippines.

Contract Law in Philippines

Contracts Law outline in Philippines.

Tort Law in Philippines

Regulating claims by civil wrongs that result in an injury or harm.

Property Law in Philippines

Real property and Personal property law in Philippines.

Copyright and Industrial Property

Survey of industrial and intellectual property laws in Philippines.

Foreign Trade

Regulation of Foreign Trade in Philippines and Asia.

Business Law in Philippines

Besides commercial law and the law of corporations and other entities, this guide provides comprehensive information about:

Criminal Law in Philippines

Penal law involves prosecution for a crime in Philippines and Asia. Find out more.

Family Law in Philippines

Family legal issues including:

  • Divorce and separation
  • Child protection, custody, support and access
  • Adoptions
  • Property Division

Public Law

More about Public Law here.

Administrative Law

Report of the branches of the Administrative law, including Environmental law.

Administrative Processes

Administrative Processing in Philippines and Asia.


Taxation in Philippines explained.

Labor Law

Overview of the labor law and social security in Philippines.

Asia Legal Systems

Further Resources

History of the Philippine Legal System

The Philippine legal tradition has been shaped by many different influences, domestic as well as foreign. More than one different legal system has coexisted in Philippines at various points in the long country history. The Portal of Philippine law provides introductory entries about the background and history of the law of the country.

Philippines Law Portal

The Philippines Law Portal provides an introductory overview of the history of legal development in Philippines, major legal concepts, the structure of Philippine government, the Philippine judicial and court system, and peculiar characteristic of the response of the Philippine legal system to development in Philippines.

The Philippines Portal presents the main areas of its legal system and the wider aspects of how law is made and reformed. The entries of the Philippines Law Portal include consideration of the primary features of the Philippine legal system, including the Philippine legal history, Philippine judicial structure and operation, the Philippine Constitution and the legislative and administrative structure and process. The contents of the Philippines Portal also include discussion of Philippine legal actors (including Philippine lawyers), legal education, judges and other participants in the Philippine legal landscape.

The Portal introduces legal professionals, students and the general reader to terms and concepts necessary for understanding the Philippine legal system, the jurisdiction, organization and authority of courts in Philippines, and the Philippine judicial interpretation and decision-making. The substantive areas of law such as public law, torts and product liability, property (including intellectual property rights and copyright infringements), and family law are also covered. The Portal also treats the law governing the main business legal topics: contracts, business regulation, companies and taxation. It also examines the civil, criminal and administrative processes, the procedural rights, main court opinions and the various modes of alternative dispute resolution available in Philippines.

Useful to the reader of the Encyclopedia as a reference, the Portal provides a table of cases, indices provides even greater detail, a glossary of selected legal terms and many entries provide bibliographies for further reading.

Comparative Law and Legal Systems in Asia

One of the goals of the comparative law is to wrap up the similarities and differences among countries, including Philippines. the different legal traditions in Asia and could be able thereby better to understand the Philippine law. to the reception of legal systems in Philippines and other countries of Asia, with special reference to the reception of foreign law (specially English law and Islamic law) by these countries.

The Asian Encyclopedia of Law provides a survey of the legal systems of almost all the Asian jurisdictions. Being the Encyclopedia a work in progress, the length of the entries may vary considerably. Each country section includes a description of their major subject areas of law, notes on the main compilations (or official codifications), a detailed listing of legislation covering specific topics and resources for enacted laws and judicial decisions (including references to further online sources).

Conclusion about the Legal System of Philippines

A good comprehension of the Philippine legal system requires knowledge and skill in a number of disciplines. The Philippine system itself is the result of developments in law, economy, politics, sociological change and the theories which feed all these bodies of knowledge. The law or Philippines may be relevant in a foreign jurisdiction court proceeding involving international transactions. The Knowledge of the Philippine traditions and its legal institutions allows a good understanding of the Philippine law, its institutions and processes and sets the Philippine law and system in a social context.

This guide introduces some of the main procedural and substantive Philippine principles, with a more detailed treatment of resources in the major subject areas of the Philippine law, with access to primary materials.

The general reader and students may learn some basic legal concepts and principles of the Philippine law, to explain how the Philippine legal system operates, and to provide a sense of how the systems within Philippines have evolved historically in Philippines from its origins.

A globally focused guide like this site, including the legal concepts and principles of Asia, cannot
avoid taking many culture-specific elements into account.

About the Author

Salvador Trinxet Llorca is a law writer, professor and lawyer specialized in comparative and international law.

See Also

References and Further Reading

  • Comparative law in a global context: the legal systems of Asia and Africa, Werner Menski
  • Asian legal systems: law, society, and pluralism in East Asia, Poh-Ling Tan
  • Philanthropy and law in Asia: a comparative study of the nonprofit legal systems in ten Asia Pacific societies, Thomas Silk
  • Law and legal institutions of Asia: traditions, adaptations and innovations, E Ann Black; Gary F Bell
  • Law, capitalism and power in Asia: the rule of law and legal institutions, Kanishka Jayasuriya
  • Asia-Pacific legal development, Douglas M Johnston and Gerry A Ferguson
  • Modern legal systems cyclopedia, Kenneth R Redden and William Emerson Brock
  • Constitutionalism in Asia: Asian views of the American influence, Lawrence Ward Beer
  • The judicialization of politics in Asia, Björn Dressel
  • East Asian Law: Universal Norms and Local Cultures
  • Law, Capitalism and Power in Asia: The Rule of Law and Legal Institutions
  • Doing Business in Asia (updated regularly)
  • Copyright Law and the Information Society in Asia
  • Insolvency Law in East Asia
  • Intellectual Property Law in Asia
  • A Legal Guide to Doing Business in the Asia-Pacific


  • Asia-Pacific Development Journal
  • Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law
  • Asian Law Journal
  • Australian Journal of Asian Law
  • Columbia Journal of Asian Law


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