Find Legal expertise in Cameroon
- Legal System
The complex legal system of Cameroon has seen multiple legal systems develop due to its complex colonial past combined with custom-based law. Traditionally, the two Anglophone regions of North West and South West have been English Common Law jurisdictions whilst French Civil Law has been applied in the eight Francophone regions. Since 2005, when the very different penal codes were unified, there has been substantial investment into updating and expanding the judicial system. Modern Cameroon municipal law is a hybrid version of the received laws. It incorporates and integrates local and imported laws and international treaties. Furthermore, the nation is seeing the emergence of a combination of Common and Civil Law together, enacted by local legislation and decisions of Cameroonian courts.
Despite opposing legal traditions, the country possesses a unified court system. Each region has a magistrates’ court (court of first instance) and a High Court. Appeals from these courts are directed to the appeals court which sits at regional level. The Supreme Court gives final judgement on appeals passed on from the provincial Courts of Appeal. Although independence of the judiciary is ensured under the Constitution, the Supreme Court comes under the Ministry of Justice. Additionally, customary law in Cameroon governs matters of personal status – customary marriages, divorce, custody, inheritance, adoption and affiliation. It is based upon the traditions of the ethnic group predominant in the region and so differs depending on region and ethnic group. Traditional courts in the villages (non statutory courts) exercise jurisdiction over any matter or dispute arising in the village, whether civil or criminal. The majority of traditional courts allow appeal of their decisions to traditional authorities of higher rank. Customary law comprises Islamic law alongside native laws and customs, and is supposed to be valid only when ‘it is not repugnant to natural justice, equity, and good conscience’.
Lawyers are known as advocates in Cameroon. Typically many law firms specialise in both of the country’s legal systems and some are bilingual (English and French). Established law firms include Mandessi Bell Law, The Abeng Law Firm and Etah-Nan & Co. The Cameroon Bar Council Association is the leading professional body. Individuals can start practicing on joining and being accepted by the Association.
Information from the World Economic Forum, The Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013
Legal rights index
Efficiency of legal framework in settling disputes
Efficiency of legal framework in challenging regulations
Property rights (including financial assets)
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