Steiner: French Law
Official online legal information systems
The most widely used official online legal information system available in France is Legifrance at http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr. This is a free database which was created by a government Décret no. 2002–1064 of 7 August 2002. It stores a wide range of legislative material including lois, décrets, arrêtés published in the Journal Officiel since 1990 as well as the full text of each code (some of them fully translated into English and Spanish).
Case law database includes:
(i) Court of Cassation decisions published in the Bulletin since 1960.
(ii) Conseil d’État decisions reported in the Recueil Lebon since 1967.
(iii) A selection of lower courts decisions (including administrative courts of appeal decisions since 1989 and lower administrative courts decisions since 1965).
(iv) Decisions given by the Conseil Constitutionnel since its creation in 1958. In addition Legifrance provides links with European and international sources (treatises, directives, case law).
Apart from Legifrance, the main official databases for case law are those of the three highest courts in France:
Whilst the website for the Conseil Constitutionnel gives all decisions since 1958, the year in which the Conseil was set up, the other two are less exhaustive, giving only a selection of leading cases in a given year.
More generally, it is worth looking at the French Ministry of Justice website, which is a well-designed site, with good graphics. Apart from providing inside information on the French legal system and details on current law reform, it also provides direct links to the other main official French legal websites and has, therefore, become a very convenient point of entry for accessing legal material. See http://www.justice.gouv.fr.
The most popular fee-based service providers are:
LexisNexis, http://www.lexisnexis.fr, also accessible through http://www.juris-classeur.com, which gives access to approximately 1,200,000 decisions, a large number of them being stored in the well-known and widely used database Juris-Data. Juris-Data was created in 1971 by Editions Techniques, today known as Juris-classeur-Lexis Nexis (publisher of the lawjournal Semaine Juridique) and is a unique source of unreported court ofappeal decisions. Search technique is by way of key words or phrases (BAIL), legal concepts (ERREUR SUR LA SUBSTANCE), code or statute provisions (ARTICLE 1 LOI 5 JUILLET 1985), date of the case (17–9-2000), name of the parties (JAND’HEUR), name of the court (CASSATION) or Juris-Data case number (no. 024 055). The database does not rely on full-text research,but rather on abstrats (abstracts) and summaries. However, decisions in full-text format can also be found on the site.
Lamylinereflex, http://www.lamylinereflex.fr, is a database of legislation and case law similar to LexisNexis published by Lamy, publishers to professionals.