William Blackstone, the renowned English legal scholar of the eighteenth century, directly influenced the drafting of the rules of statutory interpretation of the Louisiana Civil Code, and indirectly the rules on the same subject of the Chilean Civil Code (1855). The Chilean rules were later borrowed in South America by the drafters of the Civil Codes of Ecuador (1858), Venezuela (1862), Uruguay (1868) and Colombia (1887). I argue that Blackstone’s influence was significant and marked differences with the civil tradition which, in turn, determined certain similitudes with the literalism of English law of the nineteenth century. However, South-American literalism in statutory interpretation was not a copy but a creative response to local political realities. From the research into this topic South-American drafters of legislation emerge as both creative and critical users of legal ideas from an amazingly wide range of sources, unexpectedly including Anglo-American ones. What is more, the South-American political context of mid-nineteenth century suggests that in the subject of statutory interpretation comparative law arguments, up to a certain extent, were only rhetorically used.


Statutory Interpretation South American Civil Codes Louisiana Civil Code Andrés Bello William Blackstone