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UPDATE: Guide to Legal Research in the Dominican Republic

By Marisol Florén Romero

Marisol Florén Romero is the Foreign & International Law Librarian at Florida International University (FIU) College of Law.



Published September 2012
(Previously updated in July 2009)
See the Archive Version!


Table of Contents

General Information

                  Historical Background

                  Structure of the Government

                                    Legislative Power

Executive Power                               

                                    Judicial Power

The Legal System

Historical Evolution

General Court System

                  Constitutional Court

Supreme Court of Justice

                  Courts of Appeal

                  Courts of First Instance

                  Justices of the Peace

                  Special Courts

                                    Minors and Juvenile Courts

                                    Labor Courts

                                    Land Courts

                                    Contentious Administrative Court

                  General Prosecutor

Primary Sources of Law



                                    Civil Code

                                    Code of Civil Procedure

                                    Commercial Code

                                    Criminal Code

                                    Code of Criminal Procedure

                                    Tax Code

                                    Labor Code

                                    Code of the Minor

                                    Monetary and Financial Code

                  Other Laws

                  Law Reports and Compilations of Legislation

                  Case Law Reports and Digests

Treaties and International Agreements

Legal Journals

Legal Databases

Legal Websites

Legal Bookstores

Law Schools

General Information


Historical Background

The Dominican Republic is located in the Caribbean between the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico. It shares with Haiti the island of Hispaniola, occupying two thirds of the eastern side of the island. It occupies 48,730 square kilometers, making it the second largest island of the Greater Antilles, and supports a population of 8.9 million inhabitants.


Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492, the Dominican Republic was colonized by Spain until 1795 when, pursuant to the Treaty of Basle, which ended the war between France and Spain sparked by the French Revolution, Spain ceded to France the eastern side of the island, giving to France control over the entire island of Hispaniola[[1]].


From 1607 forward France began to advance and colonize the western side of Hispaniola by taking over large portions of land belonging to Spain and converting them into agricultural developments, raising cattle, and stimulating an economy of French commercial goods[[2]]. The French colony which flourished on the western one-third of the island was officially recognized by Spain in 1697 under the Treaty of Ryswick. Soon after, the French colony of Saint Domingue was established which divided the island into two distinctive cultures -- The French on the western side of the island and the Spanish on the eastern[[3]].


From 1795 to 1844, the Dominican Republic was governed successively by France, Haiti, Spain and then Haiti again, until it finally declared its independence on February 27, 1844. The first National Constitution was signed, on October 22, 1844.  Unable to control the country effectively, the then governing authorities ceded the country back to Spain in 1861. Two years later, on August 16, 1865, independence was restored and a Second Republic proclaimed. Thereafter the new republic was subjected to a long power struggle between those who wanted to remain independent (The Blues) and those who supported the annexation of the country to France, Spain or the United States (The Reds) [[4]]. The consequences of these conflicts led alternately to dictatorship (Ulises Heureux, 1882 - 1899), anarchy (1899 - 1916), occupation of the territory by the United States military forces (1916 - 1924), dictatorship (Rafael L. Trujillo, 1930 -1961) and finally democracy (1966 to present)


Structure of the Government

The Constitution defines the system of government of the Dominican Republic as being civilian, republican, democratic and representative[[5]] and describes the State as social and democratic[[6]] founded on the respect of the human dignity, fundamental rights, labor, popular sovereignty and separation of powers. The powers of the government are divided into three independent branches: legislative, executive, and judicial.


Legislative Power

Legislative power is invested in the National Congress, which is composed of two chambers: the upper body, the Senate and a lower body, the Chamber of Deputies. [[7]] Members of both chambers are elected by direct majority vote. Once elected Congressional Members serve for a four-year period and may be re-elected without time limitations. The Congress, in its ordinary legislative functions, convenes two legislative sessions per year. Each regular session lasts for ninety days, but can be extended up to sixty additional days. The first session begins on August 16, and the second begins on February 27. [[8]]

In addition to its powers to enact laws, the Congress of the Republic is empowered to increase, or reduce regular or exceptional courts, to approve or reject international treaties and conventions concluded by the Executive Power, and has the authority to review and approve the national budget submitted by the Executive Power.[[9]]

The National Congress has constitutional authority to legislate over any matter. Any senator or deputy may introduce legislation in either house. The President of the Republic, the Supreme Court of Justice in judicial matters, the Central Electoral Board in electoral matters, also may introduce legislation in either house of the Congress. The 2010 Constitutional reform introduced the popular legislative initiative by which not less than 2% of the citizens registered in the electoral registry may introduce a bill before the National Congress.[[10]]

Once a bill is approved, it is sent to the President of the Republic for promulgation and subsequent publication in the form established by law. [[11]] Article 1 of the Civil Code states that approved bills shall be published in the Official Gazette (Gaceta Oficial) and alternatively they also can be published in one or more major newspapers, in which case the publication must expressively indicate that it is an official publication and it will have the same effect as the Official Gazette. The Constitution outlines three types of acts that can be enacted by Congress: laws relating to the public order dealing with police and security of the nation; organic acts regulating the structure and organization of the public functions; and ordinary acts.

The Senate is composed of 33 members, one Senator elected by each province, plus one Senator representing the National District. The Senate is empowered to select the members of the Central Electoral Board, the members of the Chamber of Accounts and the Ombudsman. The Chamber of Deputies is composed of 190 Deputies. An exclusive function of the Chamber of Deputies is to refer impeachments of public officials before the Senate in matters.


Executive Power

Executive power is exercised by the President of the Republic who is elected with the Vice-President by direct vote for a four-year term. The President and Vice-President cannot be re-elected for the immediately following constitutional period.[[12]] The President of the Republic is the head of state, Head of the Public Administrative agencies, and also the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and the National Police. He appoints the cabinet of Ministers who assist him in his function.[[13]


The President promulgates and publishes laws and resolutions passed by Congress, and he has the constitutional authority under Article 128(b) of the Constitution, to issue decrees, regulations and instructions which are binding. The President also may enter into treaties with foreign nations and international conventions, but unless it is ratified by both houses of the Congress, the treaty will not be binding on the Dominican Republic.[[14]]


The various ministries and decentralized government offices, such as the Central Bank of the Dominican Republic, may issue resolutions and norms which are also binding.


Judicial Power

Judicial Power is exercised by the Supreme Court of Justice as well as by other courts created by the Constitution or by enacted laws.


The highest judicial body is the Supreme Court of Justice, followed by the Courts of Appeal, the Land Courts, the Courts of First Instance, and the Justices of the Peace. Other judicial bodies include a Constitutional Court, the Public Prosecutor, a Court of Accounts, which examines the country's finances and reports to the Congress, the Public Defender’s Office, and the National Council of Magistrates. The Judicial Bulletin (Boletín Judicial) is the official reporter of the Supreme Court of Justice decisions.

The Legal System


Historical Evolution

The legal system reflects the influence of successive occupancy of the island by foreign nations.


During the 22 years of Haitian occupation (1822 - 1844), the French legal system was imposed on the island, based on the Napoleonic Codes of 1804 -1810. After declaring its independence in 1844, under the Organic Law of the Tribunals of 1845 (Ley Orgánica de los Tribunales) a mixed judicial organization was applied by the Dominican Republic. The French Codes of 1815 were adopted as the codes of the Dominican Republic, in their original language, with the modifications set forth by the Constitution, and the Spanish court system established in the prior years[[15]].


The French codification remained in effect until Spanish translations of the five French codes were promulgated in 1884. These translated codes, with little adjustment to local needs remained as the law of the Dominican Republic for more than one hundred and fifty years [[16]].  The principal codes - the Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Civil Code, the Code of Civil Procedure, and the Commercial Code - were published in the Judicial Bulletin of the Supreme Court of Justice instead of the Official Gazette.


During the United States’ military intervention (1916 - 1924), the legal system was disrupted and the U.S. Military Government ruled the country by martial law through Executive Orders (Ordenes Ejecutivas). A total of 821 Executive Orders were enacted, touching on virtually all aspects of governmental administration. One of the most notable of the Executive Orders was Executive Order No. 511, enacted July 1, 1920, on Real Property by which the Torrens system of land registration was adopted as the land title system of the Dominican Republic. It was modeled after the Philippines and Australian Torrens system, and remains in effect today [[17]].


Following the U. S. occupation, during the Trujillo Era (1930 -1961), several important laws were enacted: Labor Code (1951);  Health Code (1956); Courts for Minors (Ley No. 603 - 41 of 1941) along with family laws on child support, divorce and adoption; the Litigious Administrative Jurisdiction (Ley No. 1494 - 47 of 1947) was established; the Registry of Property Rights Act (Ley No. 1542, Octubre 11, 1947, de Registro de Tierras) which derogated the Executive Order No. 511; the law establishing the procedure for Cassation (Ley No. 3726-53); and legislation on the Civil Rights of Women (Ley No. 390-40 sobre los Derechos Civiles de la Mujer). The Official Gazette and the Judicial Bulletin were published without interruption during these years, and for more than 30 years, the basic laws underwent only minor modifications, despite the fact that the Dominican Republic was growing threefold in size.


From 1991 to 2005, major legislative and judicial reforms started taking place to adapt the legal and economic framework of the country to a global and regional integration. Legislative reforms included updating laws connected with critical sectors to economic and social development focusing in finance, investment and trade, environment, tax and customs, labor and social security.


Main judicial reforms were focused on expediting trials, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the judiciary. Most notable are the reforms to the criminal and land jurisdictions. Revisions of the Criminal Procedure Code were undertaken to incorporate oral procedures and to guarantee the protection of constitutional rights; the land courts and title registry offices underwent a significant transformation, which resulted in the enactment of a new registry of property rights law and its regulations within the Torrens System.


ADR mechanisms were introduced as an alternative method of settling disputes; the National Judiciary School (Escuela Nacional de la Judicatura), the National School for Public Prosecutors (Escuela Nacional de Ministerio Público), and the Public Defender’s Office (Oficina Nacional de la Defensa Pública) were established.  


General Court System

The judicial system consists of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court of Justice, the Court of Appeals, Courts of First Instance, and the Justices of the Peace. At the time, the Torrens property system was adopted in the Dominican Republic (Executive Order No. 511, 1920), a separate system of Land Courts as a specialized jurisdiction within the legal framework was established. Other subject matter jurisdiction courts include the Courts for Minors, Labor Courts, and the Contentious Administrative Court.


The Council of the Judiciary (Consejo del Poder Judicial) is the main administrative body of the Judiciary. It designates the lower court judges and administrative personnel and exercises the highest disciplinary authority over all members of the Judicial Power.


Constitutional Court

The Constitutional Court (Tribunal Constitucional) was established by the 2010 constitutional reform, to defend the fundamental rights and protect the constitutional order. Its decisions are final and irrevocable and constitute binding precedent for all public authorities and all State agencies. They hear direct actions of unconstitutionality of laws, decrees, regulations, resolutions and ordinances; the preventive control of international treaties before their ratification by Congress, and jurisdictional disputes between the public authorities. Thirteen judges sit at the Constitutional Court elected by the National Council of the Judiciary (Consejo Nacional de la Magistratura), for a 9-year term.

Supreme Court of Justice

The Supreme Court of Justice (Suprema Corte de Justicia) is composed of not less than 16 Magistrates elected by The National Council of the Judiciary pursuant to Law No. 169 of August 2, 1997, for a 7-year term. The Council selects one Magistrate to serve as President of the Court, and designates a first and second substitute to replace the President of the Supreme Court of Justice in case of absence or incapacity.


The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over any cause of action brought against the President, the Vice President, or other public officials, as designated in the Constitution. It hears appeals of Cassation and ordinary appeals from matters arising in the Courts of Appeals. [[18]]


The official reporter of Supreme Court of Justice decisions is the Judicial Bulletin (Boletín Judicial) which is also published electronically since January 1994 on the Supreme Court of Justice homepage under Publicaciones - Boletines Judiciales.


For major provisions governing the Supreme Court of Justice, see under Poder Judicial - Información General - Marco Normativo.

Courts of Appeal

The Court of Appeals functions primarily as an appellate body and it hears appeals from decisions issued by Courts of First Instance. Five judges sit on each of the courts, with the exception of the Courts of Appeals for Minors and the Contentious Administrative Court where a minimum of 3 judges sit. The Courts of Appeals have original jurisdiction in accusations against lower court judges, Government Attorneys, and Provincial. Judgments of the Ordinary Courts of Appeals from the National District have been published electronically since January 2001 until 2006 on the Supreme Court of Justice homepage, see under Consultas – Sentencias.

Courts of First Instance

The Courts of First Instance are divided into: (a) Courts of First Instance with complete plenitude of jurisdiction which hear all matters; (b) ordinary courts of first instance which are divided into chambers to hear criminal, and civil and commercial matters; and (c) specialized courts of first instance which include: Minors and Juvenile Courts; Labor Courts; Land Courts of Original Jurisdiction; Judges for Execution of Sentences (Jueces de Ejecución de la Pena);  Courts of Control of Juvenile Sanctions (Tribunal de Control de Sanciones de la Persona Adolescente) and the Courts of Instruction (Juzgados de Instrucción) which have jurisdiction to resolve issues during the preparatory procedures, conduct preliminary hearings, and deliver judgment under the rules of summary proceedings.

Justices of the Peace

The Justices of the Peace are courts authorized to hear small claim cases. They predominantly hear police and labor matters, as well as any other matter, which Congress, through legislation, empowers them to hear. There is at least one small court in each municipality, and one located in the National District. Only one judge presides on each Peace Court.

Special Courts


Minors and Juvenile Courts

The Court for Minors and Juveniles (Tribunal de Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes) addresses both civil and criminal matters, particularly issues pertaining to paternity, guardianship, visitation rights, alimony and adoption. There are twenty (20) Courts of First Instance for Minors and five (5) Courts of Appeal, which are located in the cities of Santo Domingo, Santiago, San Pedro de Macorís, San Cristóbal and La Vega.

Labor Courts

The Labor Courts (Cortes de Trabajo) were created by the Labor Code to resolve conflicts between workers and employers. There are fourteen (14) Labor Courts of First Instance and six (6) Labor Courts of Appeal.

Land Courts

The Land Courts are concerned exclusively with procedures relating to clearing title to property, registering real property, and resolving other questions relating to real property. The Land Courts include three Higher Land Courts (Tribunales Superiores de Tierras), in Santo Domingo, Santiago and San Francisco de Macorís, and thirty one (31) Land Courts of Original Jurisdictional (Tribunales de Tierras de Jurisdicción Original). For each a sole judge decides all matters relating to real property.


The High Courts for Lands are primarily appellate courts and hear appeals from the Land Courts of Original Jurisdiction. Each High Court for Lands sits at least five judges, but Land Court proceedings are presided by a sole judge. 


Contentious Administrative Court [[19]]

The Contentious Administrative Courts are integrated by higher administrative courts (Tribunales Superiores Administrativos) and contentious administrative courts of first instance. These courts have has jurisdiction over disputes filed against decisions, actions and provisions of the central government including administrative, tax, financial and municipal issues. Hear and determine in first instance or on appeal the contentious administrative actions that arise from conflicts between the public administration and its officers and civilian employees.[[20]] The decisions of the High Administrative Court have been reported since August 1996 on the Supreme Court of Justice homepage, see under Consultas – Sentencias.

General Prosecutor

The General Prosecutor (Procuraduría General de la República) is responsible for directing the investigation of criminal acts, assisting with the prosecution of criminal actions and protecting the interests of the State. It is functionally independent of the Courts by means of Ley No. 133-11 Organic Statute of the Public Ministry.


The General Prosecutor is composed by: The Attorney General of the Republic which represents the State before the Supreme Court of Justice; General Prosecutors before the Courts of Appeal; the Public Prosecutors who appear before the Courts of First Instance; and Public Attorneys who appear before the ordinary Justices of the Peace Courts. The Superior Council of the Public Ministry (Consejo Superior del Ministerio Público) is the main governing body overseeing the operation and functioning of the General Prosecutor.


For main legislation enacted which governs the Public Prosecutor see under Transparencia - Marco Legal.


Primary Sources of Law


The first Constitution of the Dominican Republic was promulgated in 1844, immediately after the nation achieved independence from Haiti.  By 1966, the Dominican Republic had adopted thirty-five constitutional amendments. The 1966 Constitution, enacted at the conclusion of the civil war of April 1965, provided the necessary legal basis to ensure democratic stabilization of the country.


In August 14, 1994, the 1966 Constitution of the Dominican Republic was modified. Among the most important amendments are: a) it established the National Judicial Council, which designated the judges of the Supreme Court of Justice; b) provided for the administrative and financial autonomy of the Legislative and Judicial Powers; and c) expanded the competence of the Supreme Court of Justice to hear matters regarding the constitutionality of the law, to include not only laws and resolutions emanated from Congress but also decrees and regulations from the Executive Power and other governmental offices.


The Supreme Court of Justice was given constitutional authority to designate the judges at all levels of the Judiciary, and authorized to exert disciplinary authority over all its members, putting an end to Executive and Legislative control over judges and personnel of the judiciary.


Eight years later, in 2002, Articles 49, 89 and 90 of the 1994 Constitution were amended to provide mainly for the presidential re-election and other electoral matters.


In January 26, 2010, the Dominican Republic promulgated a new Constitution (Official Gazette No. 10561). Some of the most significant measures introduced by the constitutional reforms include: creation of a Constitutional Court and a Judiciary Council to oversee the performance of the courts; the inclusion of mechanisms of direct democratic participation such as the referendum and plebiscite,[[21]] and popular legislative initiative;[[22]] this constitutional reform modifies once again the reelection possibilities of the President, the president will be elected for a four year term and cannot be elected for the following constitutional period;[[23]] the right to life is inviolable from conception until death banning abortion under all circumstances;[[24]] the 2010 Constitution also bans citizenship for children of illegal immigrants; [[25]] and changes the designation of Secretariats of States by Ministries and municipal trustees (syndics) by mayors.[[26]]


                  Constitution of the Dominican Republic, 2010 (Spanish)

Constitution of the Dominican Republic, 2010 (Spanish)

Constitution of the Dominican Republic 2010 (English) HeinOnline World Constitutions Illustrated library 2011


Civil Code

The dominant legal basis of the Dominican Republic is the Civil Code (Código Civil), enacted by the Decree of April 16, 1884. With modifications, this original code is largely still in effect today.

See the Civil Code updated through Law No. Ley 189-01.

Code of Civil Procedure

The Code of Civil Procedure (Código de Procedimiento Civil) was enacted by the Decree of April 16, 1884. With amendments, this Code is still largely in effect today. See the Code of Civil Procedure updated through Law No. 489 on Commercial Arbitration, of December 11, 2008.

Commercial Code

The Commercial Code (Código de Comercio) was enacted by the Decree of June 5, 1884. With modifications, this Code is still largely in effect today. See the Commercial Code updated through Law No. 479-08 of December 11, 2008, General Law of Corporations and Individual Limited Liability Companies (Ley General de las Sociedades Comerciales y Empresas Individuales de Responsabilidad Limitada).

Criminal Code

The Penal Code (Código Penal) enacted by the Decree of August 20, 1884, includes the amendments introduced by Law No. 24 – 97, on domestic violence; Law 46-99 increasing the number and types of penalties in criminal matters and Law No. 36-00 expanding the jurisdiction of the Justices of the Peace. This text of the Criminal Code also includes in extensor Act No. 12-07, January 5, 2007 raising the amount for fines and penalties for different offenses. See the Penal Code.

Code of Criminal Procedure

The Code of Criminal Procedure (Código Procesal Penal) was promulgated in July 19, 2002, by Ley No. 76-02, effective on September 27, 2004. It abrogates and replaces the 1894 Criminal Procedure Code.


This Code effectively ended the French judicial tradition, originally adopted by Decree No. 58, July 4, 1845. It adopts an accusatory model, based on oral, public and contradictory proceedings and grants Public Prosecutors with the appropriate means to investigate violations, and the capacity to propose alternative methods for solving criminal proceedings.


Criminal jurisdiction is exercised by the Supreme Court of Justice; the Courts of Appeal;  Judges of the First Instance for Criminal Matters;  Trial Judges; Judges for the Execution of Sentences; and by Justices of the Peace. Trial Judges are competent to resolve all issues, which arise during a preparatory proceeding, to conduct the preliminary proceedings, and to dictate relevant resolutions and sentences in accordance with abbreviated rules of procedure. The Judges of the Execution of Sentences are responsible for the enforcement of sentences, for rendering decisions related to the conditional suspension of proceedings, and for hearing issues submitted regarding implementation of the sentence.


Depending on the case, the Courts of First Instance are presided over by a sole judge who hears punishable acts, which are liable for monetary fines or punishment, by incarceration for a maximum of two years (or both penalties at the same time). The court expands to a bench of three judges for cases involving crimes, which are liable for punishment by incarceration greater than two years. They also have jurisdiction to hear habeas corpus actions.


See the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Dominican Republic July 19, 2002 (alternately here).

Tax Code

The Tax Code (Codigo Tributario) was enacted by Law No. 11-92, in May 16, 1992. The Code covers matters regarding income tax, tax on the transfer of industrialized goods and services (ITBIS), and selective consumption tax. The Internal Revenue Office (Dirección General de Impuestos Internos) is the government office responsible for the collection of taxes and the enforcement of fiscal laws.


To assure an adequate level of income taxes, eliminate fiscal deficit, and reduce tax evasion, important amendments to the Tax Code have been introduced since year 2000 modifying tax figures and institutions.


Tax Code, May 16, 1992, updated through Law 182-09, July 10 2009 is available at the web page of the Internal Revenue Office. For recent amendments to the Code, and new enacted laws see under tax legislation (Leyes Tributarias)


Labor Code

The Labor Code (Código de Trabajo) was enacted by Ley No. 16-92, May 29, 1992. It abrogates the 1951 Labor Code and subsequent modifications.  The Labor Code is a comprehensive piece of legislation that establishes policies and procedures for many aspects of employer/employee relationships. The Ministry of Labor (Ministerio de Trabajo) is the state agency responsible for overseeing the compliance of these regulations. The Labor Courts have jurisdiction over labor and employment disputes. The text of the Labor Code updated through 2007, is available on the Supreme Court of Justice homepage (alternately on the ILO website).

Code of the Minor

The Code of the Minor (Código para el Sistema de Protección de los Derechos Fundamentales de Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes) enacted by Law No. 136-03 of August 7, 2003. This Code abrogates: Law No. 14-94, 1994, Code for the Protection of Children and Adolescents; Law No. 603-41 on Juvenile Courts, and Law No. 985-1945 on the Filiation of Children Born out of Wedlock, the sections which are contrary to the provisions of this Act. This new Code is a comprehensive law governing matters relating to the protection of children and adolescents, their rights and obligations. The Code was drafted based on the principles embedded in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. [[27]] The text of the Code updated through 2007, is available on the Supreme Court of Justice homepage.


Monetary and Financial Code

The Monetary and Financial Code (Código Monetario y Financiero) was enacted as Law No. 183-02, of November 21, 2002 Ley Monetaria y Financiera. This Code outlines the principles of the monetary and financial system of the Dominican Republic, and consolidates in a single statute all monetary, financial and banking norms, and modernized the legal framework previously established by the financial reform of 1947. The 2002 Law abrogates the General Banking Law No. 708-65, of April 14, 1965 (Ley General de Bancos) and the Organic Law of the Central Bank No. 6,142 of December 29, 1962 (Ley Orgánica del Banco Central).


The banking system also is subject to the provisions contained in the resolutions dictated by the Monetary Board (Junta Monetaria). The Monetary Board, the Central Bank of the Dominican Republic and the Superintendence of Banking are the state agencies responsible for regulating and supervising the financial and monetary sector of the Dominican Republic.


Major pieces of legislation regulating the banking and financial system of the Dominican Republic are the following:


Ley No. 183-02 Monetary and Financial Code, Official Gazette No. 10187 (alternately here)


Law No. 92-04 Risk Prevention to Financial Entities (Riesgo Sistémico)


Law No. 72-02 on Laundering of Assets Derived from Illicit Drug Trafficking and Controlled Substances and Other Serious Offenses (Contra el Lavado de Activos Procedentes del Tráfico Ilícito de Drogas y Sustancias Controladas y Otras Infracciones Graves), and its regulation Presidential Decree No. 20-03, of January 14, 2003, alternately see

Law of Checks No. 2859, April 30, 1951 and Law No. 62-00 amending articles 66 and 68 of the law of checks, Official Gazette No. 10104, see under Sistema de Pagos - Marco Legal.  

The Superintendence of Banking has an excellent website containing current and updated norms regulating the banking system of the Dominican Republic, see under Marco Legal.


Other Laws




The main laws and regulations governing corporations are:


The Commercial Code (Código de Comercio)  updated through Law No. 479-08, General Law on Corporations and Individual Proprietorships with Limited Liability (Ley General de las Sociedades Comerciales y Empresas Individuales de Responsabilidad Limitada) of December 11, 2008. Law No. 479-08 repealed and replaced Title III of the Code of Commerce and represented a complete revision of Dominican company law, including regulation of mergers and corporate break-ups or divisions. On February 9 2011, Law No. 479-08 was substantially amended by Law No. 31-11. [[28]]


Mercantile Registry Law No. 3-02, which sets out the obligation to record all corporate minutes and documents at the Chamber of Commerce and Production of the domicile of the merging companies.


Decree No. 408-10 on Corporate Reorganizations establishing the criteria to harmonize regulations involving corporate concentrations.


Law No. 4582 of 1956, which requires attempting settlement prior to any bankruptcy claim


The Ministry of Industry and Commerce is the government agency responsible for formulating and implementing industrial policy, trade and mining and formulating energy policies in the Dominican Republic, see under Comercio Interno – Marco Legal for commercial laws and decrees including consumer protection. For consumer protection laws and related legislation see under Consulta – Leyes Importantes para el Consumidor - Normativas de Interés and also under Transparencia – Marco Legal on the webpage of the National Institute for Protection of Consumer Rights (Pro-Consumidor).



Law No. 126-02, concerning Electronic Commerce, Documents, and Digital Signatures (Ley de Comercio Electrónico, Documentos y Firmas Digitales). This Act regulates the origin and conservation of data messages, and digital documents grating them legal value; establishes the requirements for the certification entities and regulates the certificates of digital signatures issued by the certification entities.[[29]] English and Spanish texts of the law are available on the webpage of the Dominican Institute for Telecommunications (INDOTEL).



The main laws and regulations governing energy are:


General Law on Electricity, No. 125-01, 26 of July 2001, as amended by Law No. 186-07, August 06, 2007 (Ley General de Electricidad), and its Regulations for the Implementation of the General Law on Electricity as amended by Decree 749-02 of 19 September 2002. See also Decree No. 494-07 further amending the Regulations for the Implementation of the General Law on Electricity.


Law No. 57-07 on Renewable Energies Incentives and Special Regimes, May 7 2007 (Ley de Incentivo a las Energías Renovables y Regímenes Especiales). The main objectives of this law is to reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels and increase the diversity of energy resources and stimulate private investment in renewable energy.


Implementing Regulations of Law No. 57-07, on Renewable Energies Incentives and Special Regimes, approved by Decree No. 202-08 of May 30, 2008.


The government agencies responsible for implementation of the law are the National Energy Commission (CNE), the Superintendent of Electricity (SIE), the Coordinating Agency for the Interconnected Electrical System, and the Dominican Corporation of State Electrical Companies (Corporación Dominicana de Empresas Eléctricas Estatales (CDEEE)


Environment & Natural Resources

The Environmental and Natural Resources Law No. 64-00 (Ley General de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales), was promulgated on August 18, 2000. With Law No. 202-04, Sectorial Law on Protected Areas (Ley Sectorial de Áreas Protegidas), these two omnibus legislations are the most significant environmental laws of the Dominican Republic. They regulate the pollution of soil, water and air; dangerous substances; municipal and housing wastes, sound pollution; and the concession of rights for the use of natural resources, and delimits regions within the country to be protected. The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales) is the State agency responsible for the protection of the environment and development of natural resources, see under Transparencia – Legal for laws, resolutions and decrees regulating this sector.


See Law No. 64-00, General Law on Environment and Natural Resources, alternately see; and Law No. 202-04 on Protected Areas.


Family Law

A major piece of legislation on family matters is Law No. 136-03 Code for the Protection of the Fundamental Rights of Children and Adolescents (Código para el Sistema de Protección de los Derechos Fundamentales de los Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes). This law repeals Law No. 14-94 enacted on April 22, 1994, which instituted the code for the protection of children and adolescents. The National Council for Childhood and Adolescence (CONANI) is the administrative body of the National System for the Protection of the Rights of Children and Adolescents. For other related family laws including adoption regulations, and international conventions ratified by the Dominican Republic on the rights of women and children, see under Transparencia -Marco legal.


Law No. 136-03 Code for the Protection of the Fundamental Rights of Children and Adolescents, alternately see.


Law No. 137-03 Unlawful Traffic of Migrants and Human Trafficking Dominican Republic (Sobre Tráfico Ilícito de Migrantes y Trata de Personas República Dominicana)


Law No. 24-97 on Domestic Violence (Que introduce modificaciones al Código Penal, al Código de Procedimiento Criminal y al Código para la Protección de Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes)


For procedures and regulations for adoption see under Adopciones on the homepage of CONANI. See as well on the homepage of Guzmán Ariza, Attorneys at Law, the section on International Adoptions for an English translation of Law. No. 136-03, Title V, Filiation through Adoption, available at http://www.drlawyer.com/publication-dominican-adoption.html


Foreign Investment

The Foreign Investment Law (Ley de inversión extranjera) was enacted by Ley No. 16-95, November 20, 1995 and its regulation, Reglamento de Aplicación No. 214-04, was enacted on March 11, 2004. These enactments abrogate Ley No. 861 of 1978, and Presidential Decree No. 380-96. This legislation marked the beginning of significant reforms eliminating restrictions to foreign investment and promoting the flow of capital into the country. The State agency responsible for promoting a favorable investment climate in the Dominican Republic is The Center for Export and Investment (Centro de Exportación e Inversión de la República Dominicana, CEI-RD) .


The main pieces of legislation regulating foreign investment in the Dominican are the following:


Law No. 16-95 on Foreign Investment and its Regulation Decree No. 214-04, G.O. 10272 (Ley sobre Inversión Extranjera y Reglamento de Aplicación del Registro de la Inversión Extranjera en Republica  Dominicana)


Law No. 84-99 on Export Promotion and Reactivation (Ley sobre reactivación y fomento a las Exportaciones), and it’s regulation (Reglamento No. 213-2000 para la Aplicación de la Ley de Reactivación y Fomento de las Exportaciones)


Law No. 8-90 on Free Zones in the Dominican Republic and its implementing regulations (Ley sobre las Zonas Francas en la República Dominicana y su Reglamento de Aplicación), see under Marco Legal on the homepage of the National Council for Free Trade Zones (CNZFE), alternately see under Marco Legal on the homepage of the Dominican Association of Free Trade Zones (ADOZONA)


For bilateral and multilateral investment, agreements signed by the Dominican Republic see Acuerdos para la Promoción y Protección Recíproca de las Inversiones, on the homepage of The Center for Export and Investment in the Dominican Republic (CEI-RD)


Intellectual Property

The Law No. 20-00 on Industrial Property (de Propiedad Industrial), enacted on May 8, 2000, derogates and replaces Law No.4994 of April 26, 1911 on Patents and Inventions, and Law No.1450 of December 30, 1937, on Trademarks and Trade Names. It conforms to the TRIPS and other international agreements. The state agency charged with reviewing and granting patents and registering industrial property in the Dominican Republic is the National Industrial Property Office (Oficina Nacional de Propiedad Industrial, ONAPI). See Law No. 20-00 on Industrial Property (de Propiedad Industrial) and its regulation Presidential Decree No. 599-01.


The Copyright Law No. 65-00 (de Derechos de Autor) protects ownership rights over scientific, artistic or literary works. It replaces Law No. 32-86 on Intellectual Property Rights. Decree No. 362-01, enacted on March 14, 2001, contains the applicable regulations. The National Copyrights Office (Oficina Nacional de Derechos de Autor, ONDA) is the state agency charged with granting and registering copyrights.


Law No. 65-00 Copyright Law (de Derechos de Autor), amended by Law N° 2-07 modifying Article 189 of Copyright Law No. 65-00;


Decree N° 362-01 Regulations of Copyright Law (Reglamento de Aplicación de la Ley N° 65-00 sobre Derecho de Autor), see under Tratados y Leyes here.


For Trademarks, Law No. 20-00 on Industrial Property, Title II, Articles 70 to 137 translated into English see homepage of Guzman Ariza Attorneys at Law, under Publications / Trademarks and Intellectual Property, available at, http://www.drlawyer.com/publications/dominican-trademark-law.html


Public Health

The General Health Law No. 42-01 (Ley General de Salud), was promulgated on March 8, 2001. This Law restructured the legal and institutional framework of the public health sector in the Dominican Republic. It abrogates Ley No. 4471, of June 3, 1956, known as the Health Code (Código de Salud). A National Health Commission was created to promote overall modernization of the health sector. The Ministry of Public Health (Ministerio de Salud Publica, MSP) is the state agency in charge of health services and is responsible for overseeing compliance with the Law.


Real Property

The prevalent registration system in the Dominican Republic is the Torrens system of real property registration, established by Executive Order No. 511, July 1, 1920 followed by Ley No 1542,  October 11, 1947, on Real Property (de Registro de Tierras).


In 2005 Law No. 108-05 on Registry of Real Property (de Registro Immobiliario), was enacted, derogating Law No. 1542 of 1947 and substantially modifying Law No. 5038 on Condominiums, and Law No. 344 on Property Expropriations. The 2005 reform entailed a profound restructuring of institutions and procedures for adjudicating and registering property rights in the Dominican Republic within the adopted titling system, the Torrens System. The law is complemented by three different regulations governing the three main institutions of the system: surveyors, judges and title registrars.


The main pieces of legislation regulating the land jurisdiction are the following:


Law No.108-05, Registry of Real Property and Ley No. 51 -07 amending this law


General Regulations for Title Registry, Resolution No. 2669-2009 of 10 September 2009 as amended (Reglamento General de Registro de Títulos)


General Regulations for Cadastral Measurement (Reglamento General de Mensuras Catastrales) Resolution No. 628-2009, April 23, 2009 


Regulations of the Higher Land Courts and Land Courts of Original Jurisdiction modified by Resolution No. 1737-2007, July 12, 2007 (Reglamento de los Tribunales Superiores de Tierras y de Jurisdicción Original de la Jurisdicción Inmobiliaria)


All laws and regulations on real property and registry of property rights updated through 2007 were compiled by the Supreme Court of Justice and published in Normativa de la Jurisdicción Inmobiliaria (2007), available at http://www.suprema.gov.do/PDF_2/publicaciones/libros/2007/normativa_JI_nov_2007.pdf



Law No. 19-00 on Securities Market of May 8, 2000 (Ley del Mercado de Valores), and Decree 729-04, Implementing Regulations to the Securities Market Act, repealing all regulations contained in Decree No. 201-02, of March 19, 2002, and Decree No. 645-03, dated June 30, 2003 (Reglamento de Aplicación de la Ley de Mercado de Valores), alternately see.

Law No.189-11 for the Development of the Mortgage Market and of Trusts in the Dominican Republic, dated July 16, 2011, (Desarrollo del Mercado Hipotecario y el Fideicomiso en la República Dominicana) creates a legal framework for the development of the mortgage and securities market and the trusts in the Dominican Republic.


Law No. 146-02 on Insurance and Bonds of the Dominican Republic, authorizes the Superintendent of Insurance to oversee and to regulate insurance companies in the country (Ley sobre Seguros y Fianzas).


Social Security

Social Security Law enacted by Law No. 87-01, May 9, 2001. It completely modified the social security system of the Dominican Republic. It abrogates Ley No.1896 of 1944. This new law provides for mandatory and universal coverage for all Dominican nationals and foreigners residing in the Dominican Republic against risks of aging, disability, unemployment, sickness, maternity and childbirth, and labor risks. There are multiple government agencies regulating and supervising the social security system of the Dominican Republic providing access to laws, ordinances, minutes and resolutions some of which are: the National Social Security Council (Consejo Nacional de Seguridad Social, CNSS), see under Documentos; Administrators of Occupational Health Risks (Administradora de Riesgos Laborales, ARLSS) see under Marco Legal, one finds laws, decrees, regulations and resolutions since 2002, and Superintendence of Pensions (Superintendencia de Pensiones, SIPEN), see under Normativa.


Law No. 87-01 creates the Dominican Social Security System, as amended by Law No. 188-07 concerning contributions and increased options of financial instruments for pension funds, and also by Act N0. 177-09.


Law Reports and Compilations of Legislation

The Official Gazette (Gaceta Oficial)[[30]] is the official source of law reporting, and reports all statutes and laws passed by Congress, as well as decrees and regulations enacted by the Executive Branch. Published by the Consultoría Jurídica del Poder Ejecutivo, is accessible electronically, since 1844 on the Consultoría Jurídica homepage.


Alternatively, on the homepage of the Chamber of Deputies see under Leyes Publicadas, the full text of the Official Gazette since 1990 though 2006.


Compendio de Leyes Usuales de la Republica Dominicana (Suprema Corte de Justicia 2008) in 4vols. It has the 66 most consulted laws of the Dominican Republic. It does not include the main codes. 


Emmanuel Esquea Guerrero and Raymundo Amaro Guzmán in 1982, published under the title Colección de Leyes, Decretos y Resoluciones Emanadas de los Poderes Legislativo y Ejecutivo de la Republica Dominicana (Santo Domingo: Oficina Nacional de Administración y Personal, 1982 -1988). Fifty-six volumes were published, covering the laws, resolutions, decrees and regulations from 1844 to 1983, arranged in chronological order. Unfortunately, this effort was not continued and the country still does not have a law reporting system distinct from the Official Gazette. 


William C. Headrick, Compendio de Legislación y Jurisprudencia Dominicana: Índice de la Legislación Vigente en la Republica Dominicana en Fecha 31 de Diciembre de 1980 y Compilación de la Jurisprudencia Sentada por la Suprema Corte de Justica Durante la Década 1970-1979 (Santo Domingo: Amigo del Hogar, 1981) covering law and case law. This first volume was followed by two supplements: the First Supplement covered years 1980 to 1982 (Santo Domingo: Amigo del Hogar, 1983, p. 91), and the Second Supplement covered years 1983 – 1986 (Amigo del Hogar, 1987, p. 157); These were followed in 2000 by the Compendio Jurídico Dominicano: Jurisprudencia de la Suprema Corte de Justicia durante el Periodo 1970-1998 e Índice de la Legislación Vigente en la Republica Dominicana (2 ed. ampliada, Taller, 2000).

Case Law Reports and Digests

The Judicial Bulletin (Boletín Judicial de la Suprema Corte de Justicia)[[31]], is the official source of reported court opinions. This Bulletin is published by the Supreme Court of Justice and is also accessible electronically since January 1994, at the Supreme Court of Justice homepage under Publicaciones/Boletines Judiciales.


The Supreme Court of Justice has been publishing the most relevant decisions rendered by the Court since 2005 in Principales Sentencias de la Suprema Corte de Justicia, and also in Diez Años de Jurisprudencia: Las Decisiones Mas Importantes de los Órganos de la Suprema Corte de Justicia (2007).


Case Law Digests

o   Almanzor González Canahuate, Recopilación Jurisprudencial Integrada de las Decisiones de la Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Republica Dominicana, 16 v (1975 to present). This publication is organized by topics. 


o   William C. Headrick, Diez Años de Jurisprudencia Civil y Comercial (1997 – 2000), (Santo Domingo 2008)


o   Juan Alfredo Biaggi Lama, Un siglo de Jurisprudencia Civil 1909 – 2009 (Santo Domingo 2009)

Treaties and International Agreements

International treaties for which the Dominican Republic is a signatory are regulated by

Article 26(2) of the Constitution; and Article 74(3) which provides that treaties and international conventions on human rights, signed and ratified by the Dominican Republic, have constitutional status and are of direct and immediate application by the courts and other state bodies.


The Dominican Republic has signed several free trade agreements, which are still in effect. The first free trade agreement was signed with Central America (April 16, 1998). Others, include agreements with CARICOM (signed August, 1998), the United States and Central America (DR-CAFTA) (signed August 5, 2004), a trade agreement with Panama (signed June 19, 2006), and

The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), called CARIFORUM (signed October, 2008).


International treaties and bilateral investment treaties now in effect in the Dominican Republic can be found at the following sites:


The Export and Investment Center of the Dominican Republic (CEI-RD) homepage under Acuerdos y Programas  Preferenciales /Acuerdos Comerciales; and also under Acuerdos de Promoción de  Inversiones. The CEI-RD homepage also has the texts of the different Bilateral Investment Treaties (BIT) signed by the Dominican Republic with Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Finland, France, Italy, Morocco, the Netherlands, Panama, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland and Taiwan.


Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MIC), see under Comercio Exterior-Acuerdos, Tratados.


Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (FUNGLODE), under Biblioteca-Recursos -Tratados en Línea, one finds a comprehensive compilation of international treaties and agreements signed by the Dominican Republic since 1844, organized by topics: international law, intellectual property, labor, culture, human rights, national security and mutual assistance, and environment.


SICE – Foreign Trade Information System, see under Countries/Dominican Republic.

Legal Journals

The only legal journals being currently published are Gaceta Judicial, año 1, no. 1 (Febrero 1997) - Santo Domingo: Editora Judicial y Editorial AA, 1997 - , and Estudios Jurídicos, v. 1 no. 1 – (1967) - . Santo Domingo: Ediciones Capeldom, 1967-

Legal Databases

Several efforts have been made by private entities to develop legal information databases in the Dominican Republic. The most relevant are:


Legal Database - This free of charge database is developed by Ramos-Messina Law Firm. It indexes a selection of the most significant laws of the Dominican Republic, but only provides for the full text of the main codes.


LexLata is comprehensive commercial database of laws, decrees, resolutions, codes, case law, digest of cases and journal articles from Gaceta Judicial.


Legal Websites

Most of the government offices responsible for the regulation and supervision of specific social or economic sectors provide access on their homepages to the legal framework of the sector. The websites make accessible the full text of laws, decrees, resolutions, regulations and often court decisions, international treaties, agreements and conventions signed by the Dominican Republic as well as the regulations set in force by the office. Law firms as well are publishing on their webpages the full text of recently enacted laws on areas related to foreign investment, commercial law and securities, and providing analysis of the changes introduced by enacted laws.


The following is a list of websites providing access to relevant primary and secondary legal resources: 


Government Websites


The Supreme Court of Justice   

The Senate

The Chamber of Deputies

Central Bank of the Dominican Republic

Export and Investment Center of the Dominican Republic (CEI-RD)  

Commissioner in Support of the Modernization and Reform of Justice (CARMJ)

Internal Revenue Office (DGII)  

Central Election Board (JCE)

Consultoría Jurídica del Poder Ejecutivo (CJPE)

Attorney General’s Office (PGR)

Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources

Superintendence of Banking (SB)

Superintendence of Health and Occupational Risks (SISARIL)

Dominican Customs Administration (DGA)

Law Firms

Pellerano & Herrera publishes legal guides and executive summaries on topics such as foreign investment, intellectual property, tourism, and telecommunications in English and Spanish.


Headrick, Rizik, Álvarez & Fernández, publishes books, articles and newsletters on legal reforms and the legal system of the Dominican Republic, in English and Spanish.


Jottin Cury contains the full text of economic laws regulating foreign investment, intellectual property, tourism, banking and free zones, and articles analyzing civil, commercial, criminal, administrative and constitutional law issues.


Arthur & Castillo, see under Publications in Spanish and English commentaries on purchasing real property in the Dominican Republic, commercial law, tax, trade and investment law.


Guzmán Ariza

 publishes comprehensive analysis of many different legal topics, real state, business, international trade, tourism, securities, taxation, litigation, trademarks and intellectual property, labor law, criminal law, immigration, renewable energy, international adoptions and divorce. Articles are written in English and Spanish.


Wendy Diaz & Associates (WDA) International Law Firm, see under WDALAW – Publicaciones – Leyes Dominicanas, provides access to all the codes and most important laws of the Dominican Republic.


Angeles & Lugo Lovatón, Law Firm, see under Recursos – Legislación.


Legal Bookstores

There are several bookstores located in Santo Domingo focusing on Dominican legal materials, among which are: Librería Jurídica Virtual, Editora Judicial, publishers as well of the fee based database LexLata, and Librería y Papelería La Filantrópica.

Law Schools

Legal education in the Dominican Republic is a 4-year program leading to a first law degree, Licenciatura en Derecho. Some of the most important law schools are:

Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (UASD) Facultad de Ciencias Jurídicas y Políticas. The Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (UASD) offers a first law degree and postgraduate education in Law. It also has a joint Doctoral Program in Law with the University of the País Vasco (Spain).

Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM)

Universidad APEC, Decanato de Derecho

Universidad Católica de Santo Domingo (UCSD) Facultad de Ciencias Jurídicas y Políticas.

Universidad Iberoamericana (UNIBE), Escuela de Derecho.

Universidad Nacional Pedro Henríquez Ureña (UNPHU) Facultad de Ciencias Jurídicas y Políticas.

Universidad Central del Este (UCE), Escuela de Derecho.




[[2]] Salvador V. Delgado, The Legal System of the Dominican Republic, in 7 MODERN LEGAL SYSTEMS CYCLOPEDIA, 140.8 (Kenneth Robert Redden ed., 1984). This work is a valuable source, in English, on the evolution of the Legal System of the Dominican Republic until 1985.

[[3]] WENCESLAO VEGA B., LOS DOCUMENTOS BASICOS supra note 1, at 110. 

[[4]] Salvador V. Delgado, The Legal System supra note 2, at 140.11 


[[6]] Id., art 7.

[[7]] Id., art 76.

[[8]] Id., art 89.

[[9]] Id., art 93.

[[10]] Id., art 97.

[[11]] Id., art. 101 and art. 109.

[[12]] Id., art. 124.

[[13]] Id., art. 134.

[[14]] Id., art. 128(d).

[[15]] WENCESLAO VEGA & AMERICO MORETA CASTILLO, HISTORIA DEL PODER JUDICIAL DOMINICANO 196 (Suprema Corte de Justicia 2005), available at  http://www.suprema.gov.do/Poder_Judicial/Informacion_gral/historia_PoderJudicial.aspx, see also WENCESLAO VEGA B., HISTORIA DEL DERECHO DOMINICANO 298 (2004).


[[17]] Id., 351

[[18]] CONST. DOM. REP. art. 154.

[[19]] Id., art. 164.

[[20]] JODY GRANADOS, EVOLUCION DE LA JUSTICIA CONTENCIOSO-ADMINISTRATIVA EN REPUBLICA DOMINICANA (2009), this article summarizes the historical evolution of the contentious administrative jurisdiction in the Dominican  Republic, available at http://issuu.com/o.p.d/docs/evoluci_n_de_la_justicia_contencioso-administrativ#embed

[[21]] CONST. DOM. REP. art. 203.

[[22]] Id., art. 97.

[[23]] Id., art. 124.

[[24]] Id., art. 37.

[[25]] Id., art. 18(3).

[[26]] Id., art. 134 and Art. 201.

[[27]] Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Report on the Situation of Human Rights in the Dominican Republic, at 69 to 76, OEA/Ser.L/V/II.104 (October 7 1999), available at


[[28]] Roberto Rizik Cabral, Sarah de León & Claudia Taveras, Dominican  Republic, in GETTING THE DEAL THROUGH MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS IN 68 JURISDICTIONS WORLDWIDE 112-116 (Casey Cogut, contributing ed. 2012) available at http://www.hrafdom.com/system/data_files/media_library/editor_files/File/EN/MA2012%20Dominican%20Republic.pdf

[[29]] PELLERANO & HERRERA, DOING BUSINESS IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 42 (2011), available at http://content.yudu.com/A1umbi/DoingBusinessEng/resources/index.htm?referrerUrl=

[[30]] Gaceta Oficial de la Republica Dominicana (Imprenta de García Hermanos 1858).

[[31]] Boletín Judicial de la Suprema Corte de Justicia 1 (Editorial del Caribe 1910).