Originally compiled by Paul Norman, Spring 1990.  Updated by Gerry Power, Access Librarian, March 2002, August 2007 and January 2012.


The IALS Library has a good comprehensive collection on the law of France: legislation, codes, law reports, print and electronic finding tools, academic treatises, and several academic law journals. As with all jurisdictions, priority is normally given to primary sources (statutes, cases) though with the greater importance of what the French call "doctrine" or scholarly legal literature in continental legal systems, the definition has to be broadened to include standard texts on the major fields of law.  The databases LexisNexis Juris Classeur and Le Doctrinal Plus offer academic users on-site access to comprehensive electronic collections of legislation, case law, commentary and journals.


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Primary sources: codes and statutes

The consolidated version of the Constitution of 1958 is available on Legifrance in French, and on the website of the Conseil Constitutionnnel.  It is also on Hein Online (French, English and other languages).  The Constitution is available in English in Blaustein and Flanz, (eds). Constitutions of the countries of the world (Oceana, looseleaf), and this English version was last updated in 2008.

The sources of law for France include international treaties, EU law, and the national law of France.  French legislation includes the Constitution, "lois" passed by the French Parliament (Le Parlement, which consists of the Assemblée Nationale and the Sénat), "ordonnances" which are governmental measures approved by Parliament for a limited period, "décrets" or decrees of the President or the Prime Minister, and "arrêtés" issued by ministers.  A basic and useful outline of the sources and types of French law, A propos de l'ordre juridique français, is available on the Legifrance website.

The main print sources for the legislation of France at IALS are the Codes Dalloz, of which about 20 current volumes are available, including the Code civil, the Code pénal, the Code de commerce, etc.  These are easily recognised by their red covers, and many previous editions are in the reserve collection. New editions are regularly received. The codes offer a systematic and thematic treatment of the current law.  The Codes Dalloz include many relevant pieces of legislation (lois, ordonnances, décrets, arrêtes, etc) as well as summaries of relevant jurisprudence (case law) and copious references to doctrinal writing.  The codes are the best starting point to find the current law on a particular topic.

Certified authentic texts of French legislation are available on Le Journal Officiel électronique authentifié, free on the web (June 2004 – to date).  The texts are certified with an electronic signature.  In general, all laws published in the JO come into force on the day following publication.  Users can select a particular issue of the JO by date, and can view the legislation in html or pdf versions.

Legifrance also offers the laws published in the Journal Officiel (1990 – to date) but not the certified authentic versions.  More search options are available in the Legifrance version.  Many current codes are available on Legifrance in French, with some in English too.  This site also offers law by theme to aid subject searching.

Academic researchers at IALS can find the Journal Officiel and the Codes on the Electronic Law Library, on both LexisNexis Juris Classeur and Le Doctrinal Plus.

Of historic interest, IALS has the Bulletin des lois (1789-1931).


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Law reports

There is only one "official" series of French law reports, which the Institute Library holds from 1986:

Bulletin des arrêts de la Cour de Cassation. - Paris: Imprimerie des Journaux Officiels, 1798-

The Library holds Chambres civiles (1986-) and Chambre Criminelle (1986-), i.e. two concurrent series. The Bulletin forms part of the Journal Officiel de la République française.

Some "grands arrêts" and "arrêts sélectionnés" are published on the web site of the Cour de Cassation.

The decisions of the Conseil d'Etat are published under its patronage by Sirey as:

Recueil des décisions du Conseil d'Etat, du Tribunal des Conflits et des jugements des tribunaux administratifs , 1821- ; (IALS from 1905)   Known by the name of its 19th century editor: "Lebon".

Summaries of important decisions are available on the web site of the Conseil d'Etat , under "Jurisprudence"

Other than the "official" series and web sites, the main source for decisions of all types of court are the three recueils généraux mentioned above. Among the web gateways, which offer some coverage of jurisprudence or case law , are Droit.Org and World Law: France

More than 300,000 decisions of the French courts are now available on Légifrance under Jurisprudence.  They include the decisions of the Cour de Cassation from the early 1960s onwards, and important decisions of the appeal courts. Users can search for decisions by the date of the decision, the court and by themes or keywords.  Decisions of the Conseil d'Etat and of the Conseil Constitutionnel are likewise available.


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Academic users of IALS Library will find the full collection of Encyclopédies Juris Classeur on LexisNexis Juris Classeur on the IALS Electronic Law Library.  Fifty one collections are arranged by subject, an equivalent of over 300 volumes, and the whole encyclopedia can be searched or browsed. 

There are two major encyclopedic works, each in loose-leaf format, but no longer updated and now shelved in the reserve collection:

1. Encyclopédie juridique Dalloz, 2nd edition, published by Dalloz and divided into répertoires covering the main subject areas of law:

Répertoire de droit civil . 10 volumes plus tables

Répertoire des sociétés. 5 volumes

2. Juris-Classeurs , published by Editions Techniques, again in subject sets, but extending in all to over three hundred bulky A4 binders.       

The IALS holdings are as follows:

Droit administratif . 10 binders

Droit commercial . 9 binders

In addition, though not specifically on French domestic law:

Codes et lois: traités de l'Europe Occidentale . 7 binders

Droit international . 9 binders


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IALS has a good collection of French law books on various topics, with current material on the open shelves and older material kept in the reserve collection.  Publishers include Dalloz, Litec, Harmattan, Presses Universitaires de France and LGDJ, among others. The following list of recent titles has been selected to illustrate briefly the range of subjects and publishers represented in the collection:

François Terré, Introduction générale au droit (8th ed, Dalloz, 2009)

André Jacquemont, Droit des entreprises en difficulté (6th ed., LexisNexis and Litec, 2009)

Martin Collet, Droit fiscal (2nd ed, PUF, 2009)

Bernard Beignier,  Bertrand de Lamy and Emmanuel Dreyer, Traité de droit de la presse et des médias (Litec, 2009)

Gilles Lebreton, Libertés publiques et droits de l’homme (Dalloz, 2009)

Marc Vericel (ed.), Les juridictions et juges de proximité : leur role concret en matière d’accès à la justice des petits litiges civiles (Harmattan, 2009)

Valérie Malabat, et al, (eds.), La réforme du Code pénal et du Code de procédure civile, opinio doctorum (Dalloz, 2009)

Arnaud de Raulin et al, (eds.), Droit, culture et minorités (Harmattan, 2009)

Michel Germain et al., Traité de droit commercial. Tome 1, volume 2, Les sociétés commerciales (19th ed, LGDJ, 2009)

Louis Favoreu et al., Droit constitutionnel (12th ed, Dalloz, 2009)

François Terré and Philippe Simler, Droit civil : les régimes matrimoniaux (5th ed., Dalloz, 2008)

Henri Jacquot and François Priet, Droit de l’urbanisme (6th ed, Dalloz, 2008)

Christian Gavalda and Jean Stoufflet, Droit bancaire : institutions, comptes, opérations, services (7th ed, LexisNexis, 2008)

Yaëll Emerich, La propriété des créances : approche comparative (LGDJ, 2007)

Philippe Malaurie, Les personnes, les incapacités (3rd ed, Defrénois, 2007)


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English language works on French law

Most of the Library's materials on French law are in French. This is a list of selected works in English:


Eva Steiner, French law: a comparative approach (OUP, 2010)

John Bell, Sophie Boyron and Simon Whittaker, Principles of French law (2nd ed, OUP, 2008)

Catherine Elliott, Catherine Vernon and Eric Jeanpierre, French legal system (2nd ed., Pearson / Longman, 2006)

John Bell French legal cultures   (Butterworths, 2001)


The French civil code translated with an introduction by John H. Crabb (as amended to July 1, 1994) Rothman, 1995

The French penal code of 1994 as amended as of January 1, 1999. Translated by E.A. Tomlinson. Rothman, 1999 (American series of foreign penal codes, 31)

The French commercial code in English, 2006, translated by Philip Raworth.  OUP, 2006

Other works in English include

Newman, John Charles French tax & business law guide CCH Editions, 1994-

Nicholas, Barry. The French law of contract - 2nd edition. Clarendon Press, 1992

Elliott Catherine French criminal law Willan, 2001

Delvolvé, J., et al.  French arbitration law and practice  Kluwer Law International, 2003

Other sources for French texts in English include international publications such as those of the International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation (for tax law and treaties), the International Labour Office (for employment laws), and the World Intellectual Property Organization (for copyright and patent legislation).

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The Institute has a current subscription to several French legal periodicals, excluding those on European law and public or private international law. These include the important series in wide areas of law such as:

Revue trimestrielle de droit civil

Revue trimestrielle de droit commercial et de droit économique

Revue de science criminelle et de droit pénal comparé

Revue administrative

as well as several specialized journals, for example:

Droit d'auteur

Droit maritime français

Revue français de droit aérien

Revue générale des assurances terrestres

We have the Journal des sociétés civiles et commerciales from 1935 till its merger into Revue des sociétés in 1974, but have not subscribed to the latter publication.

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On-line resources

The following offer, variously, annotated links and guidance to some primary and secondary sources of French law:

Bibliothèque Interuniversitaire Cujas de droit et de sciences économiques - the Cujas Library in Paris offers on its website links to several sites on French law, and a number of very useful guides to the major sources of the law of France. Portail du Droit Français   - a gateway site on French law

Légifrance  short for Lé, "le service public de la diffusion du droit", is an official French site offering comprehensive access to legislation and case law. - a site published by La Documentation Française, giving access to many official publications and offering the possibility to track legislation in progress.

Eagle-i Internet Portal for Law- a guide to good quality law resources on the internet.  Possible to browse by jurisdiction and there are over thirty resources on the law of France included.

World Law: France (a resource guide to French law on the WorldLii site)

Germain's French law guide (a comprehensive guide, archived on the LLRX site)

Another useful resource is the FLAG Foreign Law Guide (Search on France to discover which UK research and national libraries hold materials on French law).

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