Law of France

Last updated

The Law of France refers to the legal system in the French Republic, which is a civil law legal system primarily based on legal codes and statutes, with case law also playing an important role. The most influential of the French legal codes is the Napoleonic Civil Code, which inspired the civil codes of Europe and later across the world. The Constitution of France adopted in 1958 is the supreme law in France. European Union law is becoming increasingly important in France, as in other EU member states.


French system of Jurisdiction French system of jurisdiction.jpg
French system of Jurisdiction
French legal system Legal system in France.png
French legal system

In academic terms, French law can be divided into two main categories: private law (Droit privé) and public law (droit public). This differs from the traditional common law concepts in which the main distinction is between criminal law and civil law.

Private law governs relationships between individuals. [1] It includes, in particular: [2]

Public law defines the structure and the workings of the government as well as relationships between the state and the individual. [1] It includes, in particular:

Together, these two distinctions form the backbone of legal studies in France, such that it has become a classical distinction [2]

Sources of law

Legislation is seen as the primary source of French law. [3] Unlike in common law jurisdictions, where a collection of cases and practices (known as the "common law") historically form the basis of law, [4] the French legal system emphasizes statutes as the primary source of law. [3] Despite this emphasis, some bodies of law, like French administrative law, were primarily created by the courts (the highest administrative court, the Conseil d’État). [3] Lawyers often look to case law (la jurisprudence) and legal scholarship (la doctrine) for reliable, but non-binding, interpretation and statements of the law. [5]

Legislative sources

French legislative sources can be classified into four categories: [3]

  1. Constitutional laws,
  2. Treaties,
  3. Parliamentary statutes (loi), and
  4. Government regulations (règlements).

Hierarchy of norms

French legislation follows a hierarchy of norms (hiérarchie des normes). Constitutional laws are superior to all other sources, then treaties, then parliamentary statutes (loi), [6] then government regulations. [3] Legislation enacted by orders (ordonnances) and regulations issued by the executive under Art. 38 of the constitution (Règlements autonomes) have the same status as parliamentary statutes. [5]

EU law and international treaties

European Union treaties and EU law enacted under the authority of EU treaties are superior to domestic law. [3] [7] French courts consider the French Constitution to be superior to international treaties, including EU treaties and EU law. [8] This is in contrast to EU institutions, which sees EU law as superior to the laws of member states. [9]


There are several categories of legislation:

  • Organic statutes (Lois organiques) are laws on areas specified in the Constitution, like presidential elections and the status of judges. [3] Organic statutes must be referred to the Constitutional Council before they are passed, under Art. 46 of the Constitution. [3]
  • Referendum statutes (Lois référendaires) are laws adopted by referendum. [3] The President has the power to refer certain bills, on the organization of public powers, social, economic, and environmental policy or the ratification of a treaty to a referendum, under Art. 11 of the Constitution. [3]
  • Orders (ordonnances) are legislative instruments issued by the executive, following Parliament delegation of law-making power in specific areas. [3] Parliament first delegates law-making power on an area, along with the general contours of the law. Orders are then issued by the Council of Ministers, after consultation with the Council of State (normally a judicial institution) in its administrative capacity. [3] Orders are usually valid for three to six months and need to be not voted down by Parliament at the end of the period to gain the status of statutes. [3] [5] Prior to approval they are considered regulations. [3] New codes and major legal reforms are often enacted by orders. [3]
  • Ordinary statutes (Lois ordinaires) enacted by the French Parliament, concerning only matters listed in Art. 34 of the Constitution. [3] These matters include civil liberties, nationality, civil status, taxes, criminal law, and criminal procedure. [3] However, contrary to the expectations of the 1958 Constitution, Parliament has often had a majority supporting the government. [10] This political reality meant that Parliament's legislative domain has been, in practice, expanded to include any important topic. [10] Subjects included in Art. 34 cannot be delegated to the government, other than by orders. [3]
  • Regulations (règlement) are legislations produced by the executive power. [3] There are two types of regulations:
    • Règlements autonomes: under Art. 38 of the Constitution, any subject not expressly specified in Art. 34 is left entirely to the executive. [3] The legislative power is thus shared between the Parliament and the executive. [3] Règlements autonomes have the force of law. [3]
    • Règlements d’application are rules arising from parliamentary delegation, analogous to delegated legislation in the United Kingdom. [3] They can be challenged in administrative courts as contrary to the delegating statute. [3]


By contrast, administrative circulaires are not law, merely instructions by government ministries. [3] Circulaires are nonetheless important in guiding public officials and judges. [3] For example, the Circulaire of 14 May 1993 contains detailed instructions for prosecutors and judges on how to apply new rules in the 1992 revised criminal code. [3] Circularies are not considered sources of law in private courts, but are sometimes considered binding in administrative courts. [11] [3] As such, the binding circulaires règlementaires are reviewed like other administrative acts, and can be found illegal if they contravene a parliamentary statute. [12] [3]

Case law

Case law (la jurisprudence) is not binding and is not an official source of law, although it has been de facto highly influential. [13] 56 [5] French courts have recognized their role in gradually shaping the law through judicial decisions, [14] and the fact that they develop judicial doctrine, especially through jurisprudence constante (a consistent set of case law). [15] There is no law prohibiting the citation of precedents and lower courts often do. [16] Although the highest courts, the Court of Cassation and the Council of State do not cite precedents in their decisions, previous cases are prominent in arguments of the ministère public and the commissaire du gouvernement, in draft opinions, and in internal files. [5] [17] [18] [19]

Some areas of French law even primarily consist of case law. For example, tort liability in private law are primarily elaborated by judges, from only five articles (articles 1382–1386) in the Civil Code. [20] [21] Scholars have suggested that, in these fields of law, French judges are creating law much like common law judges. [13] 82 [22] Case law is also the primary sources for principles in French administrative law. [19] Many of the Constitutional Council’s decisions are critical for understanding French constitutional law. [23]

The differences between French case law and case law in common law systems appear to be: (1) they are not cited in the highest courts; [5] [17] [18] [19] (2) lower courts are theoretically free to depart from higher courts, although they risk their decisions being overturned; [5] and (3) courts must not solely cite case law as a basis of decision in the absence of a recognized source of law. [24] [5]

French judicial decisions, especially in its highest courts, are written in a highly laconic and formalist style, being incomprehensible to non-lawyers. [25] [26] While judges do consider practical implications and policy debates, they are not at all reflected in the written decision. [27] This has led scholars to criticize the courts for being overly formalistic and even disingenuous, for maintaining the facade of judges only interpreting legal rules and arriving at deductive results. [5]


Following the example of the Napoleonic Civil Code, French legal codes aim to set out authoritatively and logically the principles and rules in an area of law. [28] In theory, codes should go beyond the compilation of discrete statues, and instead state the law in a coherent and comprehensive piece of legislation, sometimes introducing major reforms or starting anew. [28]

There are about 78 legal codes in France currently in force, which deal with both the French public and private law categorically. These codes are published for free by the French government on a website called Legifrance. [29]

In 1989, the French government set up the Commission Supérieure de Codification, tasked with codifying laws. [28] The Commission has worked with ministries to introduce new codes and codify existing legislation. [28] Unlike the transformative Civil Code under Napoleon, [5] the goal of the modern codification project is to clarify and make more accessible statutes in by compiling one code in a particular area of law and remove contradictions. [28] Despite this, areas very often overlap and codes necessarily cannot contain all of the law in a given field. [28]


In the High Middle Ages, most legal situations in France were highly local, regulated by customs and practices in local communities. [30] Historians tend to be attracted by the large regional or urban customs, rather than local judicial norms and practices. [30] Beginning in the 12th century, Roman law emerged as a scholarly discipline, initially with professors from Bologna starting to teach the Justinian Code in southern France [31] and in Paris. [32] Despite this, Roman law was largely academic and disconnected from application, especially in the north. [32]

Historians traditionally mark a distinction between Pays de droit écrit in southern France and the Pays de droit coutumier in the north. [32] In the south, it was thought that Roman law had survived, whereas in the north it had been displaced by customs after the Germanic conquest. [32] Historians now tend to think that Roman law was more influential on the customs of southern France due to its medieval revival. [32] By the 13th century, there would be explicit recognition of using Roman law in the south of France, justified by the understanding of a longstanding tradition of using Roman law in the custom of southern France. [33] [32] In the North, private and unofficial compilations of local customs in different regions began to emerge in the 13th and 14th centuries. [32] These compilations were often drafted by judges who needed to decide cases based on unwritten customs, and the authors often incorporated Roman law, procedures from canon law, royal legislation and parliamentary decisions. [32]

In the early modern period, laws in France gradually went through unification, rationalization, and centralization. [32] After the Hundred Years War, French kings began to assert authority over the kingdom in a quest of institutional centralization. [32] Through the creation of a centralized absolute monarchy, an administrative and judicial system under the king also emerged by the second half of the fifteenth century. [32] Royal legislation also greatly increased beginning in the 15th century. [32]

The Ordinance of Montils-les-Tours (1454) was an important juncture in this period, as it ordered the official recording and homologation of customary law. [32] Customs would be compiled by local practitioners and approved by local assemblies of the three estates, with disagreements resolved by the central court. [32] At the time, the wholesale adoption of Roman law and the ius commune would be unrealistic, as the king’s authority was insufficient to impose a unified legal system in all French provinces. [32] In the process of recording, local customs were sometimes simplified or reformed. [32] By the 16th century, around sixty general customs were recorded and given official status, disqualifying any unrecorded customs from having official status. [32] Roman law remained as a reserve, to be used for argumentation and to supplement customary law. [32]

Accompanying the process of centralization and mercantilism, the king effectively initiated processes of codification in the mid 17th century. [32] [34] Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the Minister of Finance and later also Secretary of the Navy in charge of the colonial empire and trade, was main architect of the codes. [32] The first of such codes is the 1667 Ordinance of Civil Procedure (officially known as the Ordonnance pour la reformation de la justice), which established clear and uniform procedural rules, replacing previous rules in all royal jurisdictions and in the colonies. [35] [32] The 1667 Ordinance is the main inspiration of the Code de procedure civile passed in 1806 under Napoleon. [32] Other codes include the 1670 Criminal Ordinance, the 1673 Ordinance for Overland Trade (Code Marchand), and the 1681 Ordinance for Maritime Trade (Code de la Marine). [32] Ordinances would later be drawn up on Donations (1731), Wills (1735), Falsifications (1737), and Trustees (1747), but a unified code of private law would not be passed until 1804, under Napoleon and after the French Revolution. [32] Under King Louis XV, [36] there would be a constant struggle between royal legislation, traditional conceptions of the law of the Realm (customs and Roman law), and parliamentary arrêts de règlements (regulatory decisions). [37] [32] Judges sided with the local parliaments (judicial bodies in France) and the landed aristocracy, undermining royal authority and legislation. [38] [39]

Even before the French Revolution, French enlightenment thinkings like Jean-Jacques Rousseau, with a theory of natural rights, and especially Montesquieu, who advocated for a separation of powers were major influences on the law throughout Europe and the United States. [40] [32]

The French legal system underwent great changes after the French Revolution beginning in 1789, which swept away the old regime. [32] By 1790, the National Constituent Assembly overhauled the country’s judicial system. [32] A criminal code would be adopted by 1791. The Civil Code (1804), the Code of Civil Procedure (1806), and the Commercial Code (1807) were adopted under Napoleon Bonaparte, reflecting Roman law, pre-revolutionary ordinances and custom, scholarly legal writings, enlightenment ideas, and Napoleon's personal vision of the law. [32] These codes consisted of numbered articles, were written in elegant French, and were meant to be understood by the layman. [28] [5] In addition, they introduced many classically liberal reforms, such as abolishing remaining feudal institutions and establishing rights of personality, property and contract for all male French citizens. [41]

Private law

The term civil law in France refers to private law (laws between private citizens, and should be distinguished from the group of legal systems descended from Roman Law known as civil law, as opposed to common law.

The major private law codes include:

Civil procedure

France follows an inquisitorial model, where the judge leads the proceedings and the gathering of evidence, acting in the public interest to bring out the truth of a case. [42] This is contrasted with the adversarial model often seen in common law countries, where parties in the case play a primary role in the judicial process. [42] In French civil cases, one party has the burden of proof, according to law, but both sides and the judge together gather and provide evidence. [42] There is no strict standard of proof in civil cases, like the preponderance of the evidence under American law; instead, primacy is given to the judge's intime conviction, [42] based on the principle of "free evaluation of the evidence." [43]

The court gathers a dossier of pleadings, statements of fact and evidence from the parties and makes it available to them. [42] [44] Proceedings focus on written evidence and written argument, with brief hearings. [42] Witness testimonies are uncommon. [42] The ministère public, an independent judicial official, sometimes plays an advisory role in civil proceedings. [42] In principle, the first level of appellate court reviews questions of both fact and law, and it is able to do so because of the dossier. [42] It can also order additional investigations and production of evidence. [42] [45] The Court of Cassation (highest civil appellate court) generally only decides questions of law and remands the case for further proceedings. [42]

Public law

Public law is concerned with the powers and organization of the state and governmental bodies. [46]

Constitutional law

French constitutional law includes not only the Constitution itself, but also its preamble which incorporates a list of norms known as bloc de constitutionnalité, including: [47]

The Constitutional Council (Conseil Constitutionnel) has the exclusive authority to judge the constitutionality of parliamentary statutes. [3] Although originally conceived as a political body, it is now seen much like a judicial one. [49] The President, Prime Minister, the presidents of both houses of Parliament, and a group of 60 members from either of the two houses may refer bills or treaties to the Constitutional Council. [3] In addition, when individuals allege that their constitutional rights are infringed by legislation in a court proceeding, the Court of Cassation or the Council of State may refer the matter to the Constitutional Council for a ruling on its constitutionality. [3]

Administrative law

In France, most claims against local or national governments are handled by the administrative courts, for which the Conseil d'État (Council of State) is a court of last resort. The main administrative courts are the tribunaux administratifs  [ fr ] and their appeal courts  [ fr ]. The French body of administrative law is called droit administratif. Administrative procedure were originally developed by case law but have been statutorily affirmed in the Code de justice administrative in 2000. [42]

French administrative law focuses on proper functioning of government and the public good, rather than constraining the government. [50] French public bodies include governments and public organizations or enterprises, subject to different sets of rules, with both privileges and additional limitations compared to private actors. [50] Public bodies have tremendous powers, including police powers (pouvoirs de police) to regulate public health or public order, and to expropriate property. [50] Public bodies must exercise their powers in the public interest, according to principles such as continuity of services (which has been used to limit the power to strike), adaptability (changing in accordance with external circumstances), equality and neutrality (in relation to, e.g. one's religion or political beliefs). [50] [51]

All acts must have a legal basis (base légale), follow the right procedure (sometimes including right to a hearing), and done with a purpose to further public interest. [50] The court also reviews facts (including subjective judgments based on facts, like the architectural value of a building), [52] and interpret the law. [50] There are also three levels of scrutiny, namely:

Recourses provided by the court include damages, setting aside contracts, amending contracts, quashing an administrative decision, or interpret the law (only available to the Council of State, although lower courts may refer questions to it). [42] Different procedures exist depending on the recourse sought. [42] Injunctions are rare but can be issued in certain procedures (référés).

Certain acts by the French government, called acte de gouvernement, avoids judicial review as they are too politically sensitive and beyond judicial expertise. [53] [54] Such acts include the President to launch nuclear tests, sever financial aid to Iraq, dissolve Parliament, award honors, or to grant amnesty. [54] Other nonjusticiable acts include certain internal affairs of government ministries (Mesures d’ordre interne), e.g. the decision to alter the frequency of services, unless doing so is against the law. [50]

Administrative procedure

Before judicial recourse, one may request administrative appeals (recours préalable) by the official or his superior, although they are of limited use. [42] Legal aid is available like in civil and criminal cases, although lawyers are unnecessary in many cases because under the French inquisitorial legal system, judges have primary control of cases after their introduction. [42] All administrative decisions must be challenged within two months of their being taken and no waiver is possible for lapses. [42]

To begin a case, an individual only need to write a letter to describe his identity, the grounds of challenging the decision, and the relief sought, and provide a copy of the administrative action; legal arguments are unnecessary in the initial stage. [42] A court rapporteur will gather information (he has the power to request documents from the public body), compile written arguments from both sides, and request expert assessments if necessary. [42] The files and the rapporteur's recommendations are transferred to a Commissaire du gouvernement, who also makes his own recommendations to the judges. [42] Written evidence is relied upon and oral hearings are extremely short. [42] After the hearing, judges deliberate and issue their judgement, in which they will briefly respond to parties' arguments. [42]

Standing requirements in French administrative law are relatively lax. [42] Although merely being a taxpayer is insufficient, those affected in a "special, certain and direct" manner (including moral interests) will have standing. [42] In addition, users of public service can generally challenge decisions on those services. [42] Associations can also have standing in some circumstances. [42]

Criminal law

French criminal law is governed first and foremost by the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure. The Criminal Code, for example, prohibits violent offenses such as homicide, assault and many pecuniary offenses such as theft or money laundering, and provides general sentencing guidelines. However, a number of criminal offenses, e.g., slander and libel, have not been codified but are instead addressed by separate statutes. [55]

Criminal procedure

After a crime occurs, the police make initial investigations. [42] The prosecutor (procureur) or, in some serious cases, the juge d’instruction then control or supervise the police investigation and decide whether to prosecute. [42] Unlike common law countries and many civil law countries, French prosecutors are members of the judicial branch. [42] Issuing arrest warrants or formally questioning the accused or witnesses must receive judicial approval, [56] but decisions on searches and phone-tapping are often delegated to the police because of limited judicial resources. [42] There are also simplified procedures for crimes in flagrante delicto and crimes relating to terrorism and drugs. [42]

Other judges then preside at the criminal trial, typically without a jury. However, the most serious cases tried by the cour d’assises (a branch of the Court of Appeal) involve three judges and nine jurors who jointly determine the verdict and sentencing. [42] Like civil proceedings, criminal proceedings focus on written evidence and written argument, although witnesses are usually also heard orally. [42] Judges or prosecutors order independent experts for the proceeding, if necessary. [42] One appeal can be made on questions of fact and law, save for decisions of the cour d’assises. [42] Appeals may also be made to the Court of Cassation on questions of law. [42] Other judges (the juge de l’application des peines) supervise the sentence and deal with parole. [42]

European Union Law

The French Constitution specifically authorizes France's participation in the European Union (EU), an economic and political union with many legal powers. [57] The Constitution has also been amended, as required by the Constitutional Council, [58] to allow EU citizens to participate in municipal elections and the monetary union. [5] EU treaties and EU law enacted under the treaties are considered international treaties, and the Constitution gives them superior status compared to domestic legislation. [3] [7] Ordinary civil and administrative courts, not the Constitutional Council, determine the compatibility of French law with EU law. [5]

French courts consider the French Constitution itself to be superior to international treaties, including EU treaties and EU law. [8] This is in contrast to EU institutions, which sees EU law as superior to the laws of member states. [9] However, the Constitutional Council would only examine statutes implementing EU directives where it was manifestly contrary to French constitutional principles. [59]

The European Union adopts laws on the basis of EU treaties. The Treaties establish the EU's institutions, list their powers and responsibilities, and explain the areas in which the EU can legislate with Directives or Regulations. European Union laws are a body of rules which are transposed either automatically (in the case of a regulation) or by national legislation (in the case of a directive) into French domestic law, whether in civil, criminal, administrative or constitutional law. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) is the main judicial body of EU laws. The EU's view is that if EU law conflicts with a provision of national law, then EU law has primacy; the view has been gradually accepted by French courts. [3]

Judicial institutions

French judicial system

French courts go by a number of names, including juridiction, tribunal, and cour. [46] The Constitutional Council and Council of State are nominally councils but de facto courts. [46] French courts are often specialized, with separate public law and private law courts, and subject matter specific courts like general civil and criminal courts, employment, commercial and agricultural lease courts. [46] Judges are typically professional civil servants, mostly recruited through exams and trained at the École Nationale de la Magistrature. [60] There are also non-professional judges, typically in less serious civil or administrative cases. [46]

In public law cases, a public body, such as the national government, local authorities, public agencies, and public services like universities to railways, are always a party in dispute. [46] Public bodies are subject to different rules on their power, contract, employment and liabilities. [46] Instead of rules in the Civil Code and Commercial Code, administrative law statutes and principles developed by the Council of State are applied. [46] Private law disputes between individuals or private entities are heard in civil courts. [46] The Tribunal des conflits resolves questions of appropriate court jurisdiction. [46]

Administrative law courts

The Council of State (Conseil d’État) is the highest court in administrative law and also the legal advisor of the executive branch. [3] It originated from the King’s Privy Council, which adjudicated disputes with the state, which is exempt from other courts because of sovereign immunity. [46] The Council of State hears appeals on questions of law from lower courts and gives advisory opinions on the law on reference from lower courts. [46] It also decides at first instance the validity of legislative or administrative decisions of the President, the Prime Minister, and certain senior civil servants. [46]

There are 42 lower administrative courts and 8 administrative courts of appeal, which hears appeals on fact and law. [3] Administrative courts can enforce their decisions by ordonnance to the public body. [46] In addition to generalist administrative courts, there are special administrative courts on asylum, social welfare payments, the disciplinary organs of professional bodies, and courts that audit public bodies and local governments. [46] Administrative court judges are selected separately from other judges. [46]

Civil and criminal courts

The Court of Cassation (Cour de Cassation) is the highest court and the only national court on civil and criminal matters. [3] It has six chambers, five civil chambers: (i) on contract, (ii) on delict, (iii) on family matters, (iv) on commercial matters, (v) on social matters: labour and social security law; and (vi) on criminal law. [46] The court has 85 conseillers, 39 junior conseillers réferendaires, and 18 trainee auditeurs. [46] It typically hears cases in three or five judge panels. A chambre mixte (a large panel of senior judges) or plenary session (Assemblée plénière) can convoke to resolve conflicts or hear important cases. [46] In 2005, it decided over 26,000 cases. [46] The Court of Cassation also gives advisory opinions on the law on reference from lower courts. [46]

At the appellate level, there are 36 Courts of Appeal (cour d’appel), with jurisdiction on appeals in civil and criminal matters. [3] A Court of Appeal will usually have specialist chambers on civil, social, criminal, and juvenile matters. [46] The cour d’appel deals with questions of fact and law based on files from lower courts, and has the power to order additional investigations. [46]

As for courts of first instance, there are 164 tribunaux de grande instance (civil courts for large claims, family matters, nationality, property and patents) [46] and 307 tribunaux d’instance (civil courts for medium-sized claims). [3] Separate commercial courts deal with commercial matters at the first instance, with lay judges elected by the local chamber of commerce. [46] For criminal matters, the tribunal de police, the juges de proximité, the tribunal correctionnel and the cour d’assises hear criminal cases, depending on their seriousness. [46] The cour d’assises is a branch of the Court of Appeal, which hears at first instance the most serious criminal cases. [46] In criminal trials heard by the cour d’assises, three judges and nine jurors together determine the verdict and sentencing. [46] Criminal and civil courts are connected and typically co-located, despite criminal law being a branch of public law. [46]

Constitutional Council

The Constitutional Council (Conseil Constitutionnel) was created in 1958 with exclusive authority to judge the constitutionality of parliamentary statutes. [3] The President may refer a bill in Parliament to the Constitutional Council for constitutional review. [3] The Prime Minister, the presidents of both houses of Parliament, and a group of 60 members from either of the two houses may also refer bills or treaties to the Constitutional Council. [3] In addition, under Art. 61–1 of the Constitution, beginning in 2008, when individuals allege that their constitutional rights are infringed by legislation in a court proceeding, the Court of Cassation or the Council of State may refer the matter to the Constitutional Council for a preliminary ruling on its constitutionality. [3] The Constitutional Council has nine members: three are appointed by the President, three by the head of the National Assembly, and three by the head of the Senate. [61] Members of the Constitutional Council do not necessarily have legal or judicial training; former French Presidents who retired from politics are eligible to join the Constitutional Council if they wish. [46]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Court of Cassation (France)</span> Highest judicial court in France

The Court of Cassation is one of the four courts of last resort in France. It has jurisdiction over all civil and criminal matters triable in the judicial system; it is the supreme court of appeal in these cases. It has jurisdiction to review the law, as well as to certify questions of law, to determine miscarriages of justice. The Court is located in the Palace of Justice in the 1st arrondissement of Paris.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Conseil d'État (France)</span> French administrative justice institution and legal counsel to the government

In France, the Council of State is a governmental body that acts both as legal adviser to the executive branch and as the supreme court for administrative justice. Established in 1799 by Napoleon as a successor to the King's Council, it is located in the Palais-Royal in Paris and is primarily made up of top-level legal officers. The Vice President of the Council of State ranks as the ninth most important civil servant in France.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Constitutional Council (France)</span> National constitutional ruling body of the French Republic

The Constitutional Council is the highest constitutional authority in France. It was established by the Constitution of the Fifth Republic on 4 October 1958 to ensure that constitutional principles and rules are upheld. It is housed in the Palais-Royal, Paris. Its main activity is to rule on whether proposed statutes conform with the Constitution, after they have been voted by Parliament and before they are signed into law by the President of the Republic.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Judiciary of France</span> Overview of Frances court system

In France, career judges are considered civil servants exercising one of the sovereign powers of the state, so French citizens are eligible for judgeship, but not citizens of the other EU countries. France's independent court system enjoys special statutory protection from the executive branch. Procedures for the appointment, promotion, and removal of judges vary depending on whether it is for the ordinary or administrative stream. Judicial appointments in the judicial stream must be approved by a special panel, the High Council of the Judiciary. Once appointed, career judges serve for life and cannot be removed without specific disciplinary proceedings conducted before the Council with due process.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Judicial system of Turkey</span> National court system of the Republic of Turkey

The judicial system of Turkey is defined by Articles 138 to 160 of the Constitution of Turkey.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Quebec law</span> Overview of the law of Quebec

Quebec law is unique in Canada because Quebec is the only province in Canada to have a juridical legal system under which civil matters are regulated by French-heritage civil law. Public law, criminal law and federal law operate according to Canadian common law.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Court of Cassation (Belgium)</span>

The Court of Cassation of Belgium is the supreme court of the Belgian judiciary. The court is composed of thirty judges with life tenure who are nominated by the High Council of Justice of Belgium and appointed by the Belgian federal government. The court handles cases in the two main languages of Belgium, Dutch and French, and provides certain facilities for cases in German. The court is assisted in its work by a public prosecutor's office and a bar association, which both function separately from other structures. The duty of the public prosecutor's office is to provide advisory opinions to the court on how the law ought to be interpreted and applied. The attorneys of the court's bar association assist litigants in proceedings before the court; in certain cases, their assistance is mandatory.

The judicial system of Greece is the country's constitutionally established system of courts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Supreme court</span> Highest court in a jurisdiction

A supreme court is the highest court within the hierarchy of courts in most legal jurisdictions. Other descriptions for such courts include court of last resort, apex court, and highcourt of appeal. Broadly speaking, the decisions of a supreme court are not subject to further review by any other court. Supreme courts typically function primarily as appellate courts, hearing appeals from decisions of lower trial courts, or from intermediate-level appellate courts.

Sources of law are the origins of laws, the binding rules that enable any state to govern its territory.

The legal system of Azerbaijan is based on civil law. As the country was a republic of the Soviet Union until 1991, its legal history has also been influenced heavily by socialist law. However, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan became independent by enactment of the constitutional act of national independence on October 18, 1991. Azerbaijan started reformation of the legal system by the establishing of democratic reforms. This was followed by the adoption of the first Constitution in 1995 which is the foundation of the legislative system of the modern country. The Constitution creates the system of presidential republic with a separation of powers among the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches of the government in order to prevent abuse of power.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Primacy of European Union law</span>

The primacy of European Union law is a legal principle establishing precedence of European Union law over conflicting national laws of EU member states.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Law of Belgium</span>

The legal system of Belgium is based on the Napoleonic code. The Napoleonic code is the French civil code which was issued between 1804 and 1810. It clearly presents the French legal system. Belgium’s constitution is influenced by earlier constitutions of the French and the Netherlands. Belgium became an independent state in 1830 with the help of British government and there were restrictions on the parliamentary system of Belgium government. The language differences in Belgium have caused governmental and constitutional problems. Official languages are French, Dutch and German, which has official status in one district only. Parliamentary democracy usually ends up becoming a coalition government. Belgium is a federal state and has a civil law system.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Judiciary of the Czech Republic</span> Overview of court system in Czech Republic

The Judiciary of the Czech Republic is set out in the Constitution, which defines courts as independent institutions within the constitutional framework of checks and balances.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Judicial review</span> Ability of courts to review actions by executive and legislatures

Judicial review is a process under which executive, legislative and administrative actions are subject to review by the judiciary. A court with authority for judicial review may invalidate laws, acts and governmental actions that are incompatible with a higher authority: an executive decision may be invalidated for being unlawful or a statute may be invalidated for violating the terms of a constitution. Judicial review is one of the checks and balances in the separation of powers: the power of the judiciary to supervise the legislative and executive branches when the latter exceed their authority. The doctrine varies between jurisdictions, so the procedure and scope of judicial review may differ between and within countries.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Politics of France</span> Political system of France

The politics of France take place with the framework of a semi-presidential system determined by the French Constitution of the French Fifth Republic. The nation declares itself to be an "indivisible, secular, democratic, and social Republic". The constitution provides for a separation of powers and proclaims France's "attachment to the Rights of Man and the principles of National Sovereignty as defined by the Declaration of 1789".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Judiciary of Belgium</span> Court system overview

The judiciary of Belgium is similar to the French judiciary. Belgium evolved from a unitary to a federal state, but its judicial system has not been adapted to a federal system.

The judiciary of Luxembourg comprises a number of courts.

Armenian law, that being the modern Legal system of Armenia, is a system of law acted in Armenia.

Supreme Court of Azerbaijan is the highest court instance and final court of appeal of three-staged judicial system in Azerbaijan. Established in pursuant Article 131 of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Article 77 of the Law "on Courts and Judges". Supreme Court has competence to carry out justice on civil, criminal disputes and other cases related to the execution of general or specialized courts. Despite being established in Baku, its jurisdiction applies to the entire territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan.



  1. 1 2 Cornu, Gérard (2014). Vocabulaire Juridique (in French) (10 ed.). Paris: PUF.
  2. 1 2 Terré, François (2009). Introduction générale au droit. Précis (in French) (8 ed.). Paris: Dalloz. pp. 91–95.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 Steiner, Eva (2018-04-19). Legislation and the Constitutional Framework. Vol. 1. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/oso/9780198790884.003.0001. ISBN   978-0-19-183334-2.
  4. Merryman, J. H., and Perez-perdomo, R., The Civil Law Tradition, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Bell, John; Boyron, Sophie; Whittaker, Simon (2008). "Sources of law". Principles of French Law. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199541393.003.0002. ISBN   978-0-19-954139-3.
  6. Article 55 of the French Constitution, which states: "Treaties or agreements duly ratified or approved shall, upon publication, prevail over Acts of Parliament, subject, with respect to each agreement or treaty, to its application by the other party."
  7. 1 2 See Art. 88-1 of the Constitution, laying down the EU institutional and legal framework
  8. 1 2 See Conseil d’État, ruling in Sarran, Levacher et autres (1998), AJDA, 1039. See also the Court of Cassation decision in Pauline Fraisse (2000), Bull. ass. plen., no 4.
  9. 1 2 Costa v ENEL [1964] ECR 585
  10. 1 2 Colloque Aix-en-Provence, Vingt ans d’application de la Constitution de 1958: le domaine de la loi et du règlement (Marseille, 1988)
  11. Conseil d’État in Institution Notre Dame du Kreisker (1954), RPDA, 50
  12. See, e.g. Syndicat des producteurs indépendants (1997), D. 1997, 467
  13. 1 2 F.H. Lawson, A Common Lawyer looks at the Civil Law (Ann Arbor, 1953)
  14. See, e.g. Cour de cassation, Rapport annuel 1975 (Paris, 1976), 101
  15. L’image doctrinale de la Cour de cassation (Paris, 1994)
  16. R. David, French Law (Baton Rouge, 1972) 182-183
  17. 1 2 J. Bell, ‘Reflections on the procedure of the Conseil d’Etat’ in G. Hand and J. McBride, Droit sans frontières (Birmingham, 1991)
  18. 1 2 M Lasser, ‘Judicial (Self-)Portraits: Judicial Discourse in the French Legal System’ (1995) 104 Yale LJ 1325
  19. 1 2 3 J. Bell, French Legal Cultures (Cambridge, 2001) 175–185.
  20. Les conditions de la responsabilité 3rd edn. (Paris, 2006)
  21. Les effets de la responsabilité 2nd edn. (Paris, 2001)
  22. G. Ripert, Le régime démocratique et le droit civil moderne, vol. 2 (Paris, 1948), 15
  23. See G. Vedel, ‘Le précédent judiciaire en droit public’, in Die Bedeutung von Präjudizien in deutschen und französischen Recht (Arbeiten zur Rechtsvergleichung no. 123 (Frankfurt/Main, 1985).
  24. E.g. Crim. 3 Nov. 1955, D 1956.557 note Savatier, where a Cour d’appel’s decision was quashed because it had refused to exceed its normal maximum level of damages.
  25. A. Perdriau, La pratique des arrêts civils de la Cour de cassation: principes et méthodes de rédaction (Paris, 1993)
  26. B. Ducamin, ‘Le style des décisions du Conseil d’Etat’ EDCE 1984–1985.129
  27. M. Lasser, Judicial Deliberations. A Comparative Analysis of Judicial Transparency and Legitimacy (Oxford, 2004), 16, 44–61
  28. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Steiner, Eva (2018). "Codification". French Law. Vol. 1. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/oso/9780198790884.001.0001. ISBN   978-0-19-879088-4.
  29. "Légifrance".
  30. 1 2 Hespanha, António (2018-08-08). Pihlajamäki, Heikki; Dubber, Markus D.; Godfrey, Mark (eds.). Southern Europe (Italy, Iberian Peninsula, France). Vol. 1. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198785521.013.17. ISBN   978-0-19-878552-1.
  31. André Gouron, La Science du droit dans le Midi de la France au Moyen Âge (Variorum 1984)
  32. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 Dauchy, Serge (2018-08-08). Pihlajamäki, Heikki; Dubber, Markus D.; Godfrey, Mark (eds.). French Law and its Expansion in the Early Modern Period. Vol. 1. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198785521.013.32. ISBN   978-0-19-878552-1.
  33. Jean Bart, Histoire du droit privé: de la chute de l’Empire romain au XIXe siècle (Montchrestien 1998) 112-14.
  34. Jean-Louis Halpérin, Five Legal Revolutions since the 17th Century: An Analysis of a Global Legal History (Springer 2014) 35 ff
  35. Van Caenegem, ‘History of European Civil Procedure’ (n 2) 45 ff.
  36. Serge Dauchy, ‘Séance royale du 3 mars 1766 devant le Parlement de Paris dit séance de la Flagellation’ in Julie Benetti, Pierre Egéa, Xavier Magnon, and Wanda Mastor (eds), Les Grands discours juridiques, Dalloz, collection les grands arrêts, 2017.
  37. Philippe Payen, Les Arrêts de règlement du Parlement de Paris au XVIIIe siècle (Presses universitaires de France 1997).
  38. Alexis de Tocqueville, The Old Regime and the French Revolution
  39. Georges Lefebvre, The Coming of the French Revolution 17-18 (Palmer, tr. 1967)
  40. Stella Ghervas, ‘The Reception of The Spirit of Law in Russia: A History of Ambiguities’ in Michel Porret and Catherine Volpilhac-Auger (eds.), Le Temps de Montesquieu (Droz 2002) 391–403.
  41. John Henry Merryman, The French Deviation, The American Journal of Comparative Law, Vol. 44, No. 1 (Winter, 1996), pp. 109- 119.
  42. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 Bell, John; Boyron, Sophie; Whittaker, Simon (2008-03-27). "Legal Procedure". Principles of French Law. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199541393.003.0005. ISBN   978-0-19-954139-3.
  43. "Evidence - Relevance and admissibility". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-05-29.
  44. Arts. 14 and 15 E.g. Ch. mixte 3 Feb. 2006, Droit et procédure 2006.214 (absence of communication of documents in suitable time (temps utile)).
  45. Art. 563
  46. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 Bell, John; Boyron, Sophie; Whittaker, Simon (2008). "Court Institutions". Principles of French Law. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199541393.003.0003. ISBN   978-0-19-954139-3.
  47. 1 2 3 4 5 See Conseil Constitutionnel Decision 71–44 DC, 16 July 1971, Liberté d’association, Rec. 29
  48. J. Bell, French Constitutional Law (Oxford, 1992), 70–71
  49. Bell, John; Boyron, Sophie; Whittaker, Simon (2008-03-27). "Constitutional Law". Principles of French Law. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199541393.001.0001. ISBN   978-0-19-954139-3.
  50. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Bell, John; Boyron, Sophie; Whittaker, Simon (2008-03-27). "Administrative Law". Principles of French Law. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199541393.001.0001. ISBN   978-0-19-954139-3.
  51. Meschariakoff, Services publics, 21, 133-35, 176-77
  52. Gomel, CE 4 April 1914, S 1917.3.25 note Hauriou.
  53. Jully, A. (2019). Propos orthodoxes sur l’acte de gouvernement: (Note sous Conseil d’Etat, 17 avr. 2019, Société SADE, n°418679, Inédit au Lebon). Civitas Europa, 43(2), 165-171. doi:10.3917/civit.043.0165.
  54. 1 2 Bell, John; Boyron, Sophie; Whittaker, Simon (2008-03-27). Principles of French Law. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199541393.001.0001. ISBN   978-0-19-954139-3.
  55. Link to Penal Code
  56. Art. 152 al. 2,én.
  57. Art. 88-1 et seq. of the Constitution
  58. C. cons. 9 April 1992, Maastricht Treaty, Rec. 55.
  59. C. cons. 10 June 2004, Rec. 101.
  60. Steiner, Eva (2018-04-19). "Judges". French Law. Vol. 1. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/oso/9780198790884.001.0001. ISBN   978-0-19-879088-4.
  61. Shaw, Mabel. "Guides: French Legal Research Guide: The Layout of the French Legal System". Retrieved 2020-05-28.


Further reading

in English
in French