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Doing Business in Greece

Legal System

The Greek legal system is a member of the family of European laws and is especially influenced by German and French law. For the most part, Greek law is codified and, unlike Anglo-American common law, only enacted laws either in the form of codes or other statutes are the sources of law in addition to custom and international law (Civil Code, Art. 1). The importance of custom, however, is minimal and it is used only in accordance with enacted law intra or praetor legem and never contra legem. Pursuant to Art. 28(1) of the Greek Constitution, the generally accepted rules of international law as well as ratified international treaties become part of domestic law.

As a practical matter, legislation is the most important source of law. Although judicial decisions and the works of legal scholars are not considered sources of law, they can be very influential. The role of the courts is to interpret legislation. This is best seen in cases where general concepts or clauses in a statute are applied to a particular case. Greek courts do not possess a law-making capacity as such. Judicial precedent, therefore, does not formally bind courts. Nevertheless, courts only seldom depart from prior established practice reflected by a series of decisions. Established practice in decisions of the higher courts and especially those of the "Areios Pagos" (the Supreme Civil and Criminal Court) plays an important role in the decision-making process of the lower courts. In a similar manner, the works of legal scholars have the potential of influencing both the legislators in enacting the law and the courts in interpreting it.