The French Legal System Essay

Topics: Common law, Law, Civil law Pages: 4 (1272 words) Published: December 15, 2011
The French legal system essay

Britain is a common law country in which the system of justice depends heavily on custom and precedent. By contrast, France is a civil law country where the legal system is based entirely on a body of written law commonly called the Code of Law.   This translates into less reliance on case law, no straight precedent rule, and to simplify matters, no need in contracts for providing for every single occurrence, which means that a standard agreement might well be ten or twenty pages long instead of one or two hundred pages or more as those commonly used in the U.S. Worldwide, common Law forms the basis of the law in most English-speaking countries, whereas civil law systems prevail in most of the rest of the world. The basis of the French legal system is laid out in a key document originally drawn up in 1804, and known as the Code Civil,  or Code Napoléon, (Civil code or Napoleonic code). It laid down the rights and obligations of citizens, and the laws of property, contract, inheritance, etc.. The Code Civil remains essential today although it has been updated and extended many times to take account of changing society. For example,in 1994 a new criminal code was introduced, including clauses on sexual harassment, ecological terrorism, crimes against humanity and maximum jail sentences, which are 30 years. There are other codes, including notably the Code Pénal, or Penal code, which defines criminal law. Today there are 55 codes (compilations of laws, decrees, and circulars) governing all branches of French law. The code governs all branches of French law and includes Code Civil, the Code Pénal and the Code fiscal. In France there are actually two judicial systems: administrative and judiciary. The administrative system is responsible for settling lawsuits between the government and the individual. This provides French citizens with exceptional legal protection. Suits are brought to the 22 Tribunaux de Premiére Instance and...
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