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Law of France

 Law of France

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، 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.

Civil law (droit civil [fr]). This branch refers to the field of private law in common law systems. This branch encompasses the fields of inheritance law, civil law, family law, property law, and contract law.

Commercial law (droit commercial [fr])

Employment law (droit du travail [fr])

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

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:

       The Civil Code,

       The Code of Civil Procedure,

       The Commercial Code, and

       The Intellectual Property Code.

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, based on the principle of "free evaluation of the evidence.

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. The Court of Cassation (highest civil appellate court) generally only decides questions of law and remands the case for further proceedings.

Public law

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

Constitutional law

Main article: Constitution of France

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.

Rights listed in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen: including classical liberal rights on individual freedom, right to property and contract, and equality.

Social and economic rights listed in the preamble to the former 1946 Constitution: including the rights to health, education, trade union activity, and work.

Fundamental principles recognized by the laws of the Republic: in theory this consists of freedoms and liberties recognized by legislation in the Third Republic, although courts have taken some liberty to expand such principles.

Rights in the 2004 Charter for the Environment: including abstract principles such as the principle of sustainable development.

The Constitutional Council (Conseil Constitutionnel) has the exclusive authority to judge the constitutionality of parliamentary statutes. Although originally conceived as a political body, it is now seen much like a judicial one. 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.

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 procedures were originally developed by case law but have been statutorily affirmed in the Code de justice administrative in 2000.

French administrative law focuses on proper functioning of government and the public good, rather than constraining the government.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. Public bodies have tremendous powers, including police powers (pouvoirs de police) to regulate public health or public order, and to expropriate property. 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).

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. The court also reviews facts (including subjective judgments based on facts, like the architectural value of a building), and interprets the law. There are also three levels of scrutiny, namely:

maximum control (ascertain both the correctness of the facts and the appropriateness of the evaluation),

normal control (ensuring that the facts are sufficient to justify the decision and that the law had been interpreted correctly) and

minimum control (only interfere where the administration has manifestly exceeded its powers, including manifest error in evaluation and disproportionate decisions).

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


Certain acts by the French government, called acte de gouvernement, avoid judicial review as they are too politically sensitive and beyond judicial expertise. Such acts include the President to launch nuclear tests, sever financial aid to Iraq, dissolve Parliament, award honors, or to grant amnesty. 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.

Eng-Mostafa ismail


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