French Legislation

French Legislation in Europe

Legislative Powers

The legislative power in France is vested in a parliament, le Parlement, which is comprised of two bodies:

As provided in Title V, Article 34, of the Constitution (English – unofficial translation), the legislature’s power to enact laws is limited to the following areas:

  • civil rights
  • nationality
  • status
  • capacity of persons
  • crimes and criminal procedure
  • currency
  • inheritance
  • taxes

Laws on all other subjects are considered regulatory in nature and are promulgated by the executive, pursuant to Title V, Article 34, of the Constitution.

The Official Journal

The official gazette for France is the Official Journal, or Journal officiel, commonly referred to as the JO. Laws come into force upon publication in the JO.

A search of the most recent JO will reveal details of changes in existing laws or newly enacted laws. An unofficial version of the JO is also available for reference. The unofficial version offers searching as well as yearly indexes beginning in 1996.

Regulations, from the executive, also appear in the JO, as do ratified treaties.

The JO has a long history, beginning with as a semi-official journal in 1799, then evloving into the JO in 1880.

The  Journal officiel de la République français: Edíì du matin is the title under which the JO has been published beginning in 1946, and continues through the present. Be sure to consult the history of the JO to verify the title under which the JO was published during the time period being researched.

Parliamentary Proceeding Materials

Before a law is officially enacted, there are draft bills generated by L’Assemblée nationale and Le Sénat, which are also published in the JO. A search of the debates of Le Sénat and L’Assemblée nationale as well as Le Sénat‘s and L’Assemblée nationale‘s other parliamentary materials are of assistance when looking for pending, very recently enacted legislation or the legislative history of a particular law.

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