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Chile: A Legal Research Guide : Introduction

Guide to Chilean legal materials (primarily federal) online and at the UW-Law Library. Sources are mainly in Spanish; annotations are given in English where deemed necessary. Note the dates of publication for each text, as some may be outdated.

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Legal System and Political Structure

Chile is a democratic republic that operates under a unitary form of government. The country consists of thirteen regions, all administered indirectly by the president.

The government is organized into three branches: executive, legislative and judicial. The three branches check and balance each other according to the principle of the separation of powers.

The executive branch is headed by the president. The legislative branch consists of a bicameral legislature: the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies.

As a civil law jurisdiction, Chile's legal system is governed by codes written by legal scholars (civil, labor, criminal, etc.).

Chile's judiciary branch is headed by the Supreme Court of Chile. One level below in the hierarchy are the seventeen Courts of Appeals, each one with jurisdiction over one or more provinces of the country.  Occupying the lowest tier are the trial courts-- district and military.

For more information about the Chilean legal system and sources of law, see Reynolds and Flores' Foreign Law Guide.


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