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France: legal resources: Cases

Cour de cassation (Court of cassation)

"The Cour de cassation (Court of cassation) is the highest court in the French judiciary.

First of all, the Cour de cassation (Court of cassation) is unique: “There is one single Court of cassation for the whole Republic”. Its most important role by far is to uphold this fundamental principle which is laid down at the beginning of the texts of the Judicial Code that deal with the Court of Cassation: it is inseparable from the essential purpose of the Court, which is to unify case law and to ensure that the interpretation of texts is the same across the territory. It is the uniqueness of the Cour de cassation (Court of cassation) that enables uniformity of interpretation, and thus the development of authoritative case law.

Secondly, the Cour de cassation (Court of cassation) does not constitute a third level of jurisdiction above the lower courts and the courts of appeal. It is mostly called up on not to decide on the merits of the case, but to say whether the rules of law have been correctly applied, based on the facts sovereignly assessed in the decisions,. Thus, The Cour de cassation (Court of cassation) does not, strictly speaking, rule on the disputes that gave rise to the decisions referred to it, but on the rulings themselves. It acts in fact as the judge of the judges’ rulings: its role is to say whether they have applied the law correctly in the light of the facts, determined by them alone, of the case submitted to them and the questions put to them. Thus, the purpose of each appeal is to challenge a judicial decision, in respect of which the Cour de cassation (Court of cassation) shall say whether =the rules of law were correctly or incorrectly applied." [ accessed 1 Dec 2022.]

French cases: online sources

French law reports in the LawBod

Official & Semi-Official Reports

Bulletins de la Cour de Cassation The LawBod does not have this pubication, so try a search via La jurisprudence judiciaire in L égifrance. The Court itself decides which cases should be published.The Bulletins do not contain any commentary or analysis. The Bulletin is made up of 2 series the Bull. crim. and the Bull. civ. Bull. civ. has parts I, II, III, IV & V reflecting the five civil chambers.

Recueil des décisions du Conseil Constitutionnel  France 100 C750. The annual volumes include an English synopsis of the cases reported.

Recueil Lebon (aka Recueil des décisions du Conseil D'État) France 100 C755. Includes decisions from the Tribunal des Conflits and selected decisions of the lower administrative courts.

Private reports (Recueils de jurisprudence)

Gazette du Palais (Gaz.Pal. or GP + year in citations) France 100 G289

Recueil Dalloz (D. in citations) France 100 S619e

Semaine Juridique or Juris-classeur périodique (Sem.Jur. or JCP + year in citations) France 300 S20


Journals with special case note/case analysis sections

L'actualité juridique : droit administratif (AJ or AJDA in citations) France 300 A10
Revue trimestrielle de droit civil (RTDC, RTDciv, Rev. trim.dr.civ in citations) France 300 R280
Revue du droit public et de la science politique (RDP or rev.dr.publ. in citations) France 300 R170
Revue de science criminelle et de droit pénal comparé (RSC or in citations) General 300 R220

Judgments & case notes

French law reports, to those used to common law judgments,  can appear very brief, technical, and single-voiced.

French case notes - notes d'arrêts - have great importance in both the study and the practice of French law.

The case note is a learned and informed commentary essential to the full understanding of the actual decision. The commentator or l'arrêtiste will be legally trained and will often have had access to the court file on the case and/or worked closely with either a lawyer or judge involved.

Within the journals which publish them they are sometimes further categorised: note, point de vue, observation. (obs)

French casebooks

For the time poor student, the Grands Arrêts are a reliable route to the leading cases in the principal areas of law. Just note the date of publication, and check any intervening years between then and now ... elsewhere! Some of the series held in the LawBod are