Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

French Legal Research Guide

This in-depth guide will help researchers navigate French legal materials.

Case Law

Because France is a civil law country, case law is not as important as it is in the United States. France does not have a comprehensive reporter system similar to the federal and regional reporters of the U.S. The most important French courts are the Cour de cassation (the Federal Supreme Court), the Conseil d'Etat (Supreme Administrative Court), and the Conseil constitutionnel (Constitutional Court). Decisions from these courts are available in print and recently online. Most decisions will only be available in French. Researchers are likely to find decisions from the highest French courts; locating lower court decisions is often difficult to impossible.

Court Decisions in French

  • Recueil le Dalloz INTL KJV112 .R43
    This weekly publication merged the Recueil-Dalloz and the Dalloz affaires. It is available on CD-ROM as well. It contains case law from all three high courts - the Cour de cassation, Conseil d'Etat, and Conseil constitutionnel. 
  • La Semaine Juridique INTL KJV80 .S45 (cancelled in 2012)
    This weekly law journal covers all aspects of French law - civil, public, commercial, and social.
  • Bulletin des arrêts de la cour de Cassation (Federal Supreme Court). 
    The bulletin is split into the criminal chamber and the civil chamber. Decisions are available in several places, online (for the Chambre criminelle) and online (for the Chambres civiles) (beginning in 2008 to the present) or in print (Chambre criminelle) (1945-1997) INTL KJV7976.4 .F73r and in print (Chambres civiles) (1947 - 1997) INTL KJV446 .F725r
  • Les cahiers du Conseil constitutionnel INTL K3 .A145
    A legal periodical specializing in decisions of the constitutional counsel as well as comparative analysis of the constitutions of other jurisdictions.
  • Recueil des décisions du Conseil constitutionnel INTL KJV4075.8 .F73
    The official reporter for decisions from the constitutional counsel.

English Translations

French cases in English translation are much harder to find than French statutes in translation. In addition to the source listed below, journals articles may reprint portions of key cases or discuss them in depth. General online searching may occasionally prove successful in locating translations of a few well-known cases. French case law is not available in Lexis or Westlaw.