Zoological nomenclature is independent of other systems of nomenclature, for example botanical nomenclature. This implies that animals can have the same generic names as plants.
The rules and recommendations have one fundamental aim: to provide the maximum universality and continuity in the naming of all animals, except where taxonomic judgment dictates otherwise. The code is meant to guide only the nomenclature of animals, while leaving zoologists freedom in classifying new taxa.
In other words, whether a species itself is or is not a recognized entity is a subjective decision, but what name should be applied to it is not. The code applies only to the latter. A new animal name published without adherence to the code may be deemed simply "unavailable" if it fails to meet certain criteria, or fall entirely out of the province of science (e.g., the "scientific name" for the Loch Ness Monster).
The rules in the code determine what names are valid for any taxon in the family group, genus group, and species group. It has additional (but more limited) provisions on names in higher ranks. The code recognizes no case law. Any dispute is decided first by applying the code directly, and not by reference to precedent.
The code is also retroactive or retrospective, which means that previous editions of the code, or previous other rules and conventions have no force any more today, and the nomenclatural acts published 'back in the old times' must be evaluated only under the present edition of the code. In cases of disputes concerning the interpretation, the usual procedure is to consult the French Code, lastly a case can be brought to the commission who has the right to publish a final decision.
In regulating the names of animals it holds by six central principles, which were first set out (as principles) in the third edition of the code (1985):
This is the principle that the scientific name of a species, and not of a taxon at any other rank, is a combination of two names; the use of a trinomen for the name of a subspecies and of uninominal names for taxa above the species group is in accord with this principle.