France is a unitary state with a hybrid presidential-parliamentary system of government. The French legal system falls within the civil law tradition, which traces its origins to Roman law. France played a leading role in the codification of civil law during the 19th century. French legal codes have influenced the development of the law in many other European jurisdictions and in much of Latin America and Africa.
The Georgetown Law Library maintains an extensive collection of French legal materials, including both primary law and secondary sources, in French and in English. These materials have call numbers beginning with the letters KJV and are located on the fourth flour of the Williams Library.
Key Resources for French Legal Research
French Language Resources
This official French government database provides free online access to constitutional texts, legal codes, consolidated laws, and judicial decisions issued by the Conseil constitutionnel, the Cour de cassation, and the Conseil d’État. The contents and navigation are entirely in French. If you are conversant in French, consult this user guide and these video tutorials.
- Dalloz Publications
Current Georgetown Law students, faculty, and staff may log in to this subscription database with a shared username and password (click on the link above to access). Select Codes Dalloz to view current French legal codes with embedded citations to related laws (textes complémentaires), relevant judicial decisions (jurisprudence), and scholarly commentary (bibliographie). Select Jurisprudence to search by keyword for judicial decisions issued by higher courts and tribunals concerning both public law and private law matters. Navigation and contents are in French.
Full-Text English Translations of French Legal Materials
Practical Guidance & Commentary on French Law
- Lexology: Getting the Deal Through (GTDT)
Current Georgetown Law students, faculty, and staff may log in to this subscription database with a shared username and password (click on the link above to access; no login required if on-campus). GTDT offers practitioner-written summaries of French laws governing dozens of practice areas (“work areas"). Each summary follows a question and answer format and includes references or citations to relevant primary laws. Begin by selecting France as the jurisdiction from the menu in the center of the page and then select the desired work area (practice area).
- Thomson Reuters Practical Law: France
U.S. academic subscribers to Westlaw may access this online resource, which provides practitioner-oriented guidance on French law for selected practice areas. Content includes practice notes, checklists, and standardized forms and documents.
- Global Legal Monitor: France (Law Library of Congress)
This free resource provides analysis and commentary on significant developments in French law, including the enactment of important new legislation and the issuance of noteworthy judicial decisions. Links to primary law sources (in French) are almost always provided. Use the filters on the left to narrow by date and by topic.