By scrutinizing the phenomenon of codification of private law the author enquires whether the process of codification as understood in the civil law legal family and a complex civil code itself still have a place in the contemporary legislation and in the private law practice. Codification is hereby perceived as the traditional vehicle of private law innovation in Europe. Thus common features of codification are analysed and the variation of the concept in common law systems is taken note of. Furthermore, it is evaluated what effect on the legal system and the society the codification bring about. On background of the analysis of concrete historical experience with codification, it is suggested that the codification legacy in continental Europe is still relevant, whereas certain features of the phenomenon have to be redefined in order to serve the purpose of innovating and stabilizing modern private law, which is to take account of the social and meta-legal context, in which it is applied. Therefore stronger preference of open concepts and principles seem to be required and higher demands on the expert legislative work as well as judicial analytical depth are postulated.