Researching 18th Century Judicial Cases from the Parlement of Paris

The latest issue of French History offers an illuminating  article by the legal historian David Feutry on the difficulties of researching judicial cases from the Parlement of Paris, an important judicial appellate body during the Ancien Régime.  The Parlement’s defense of aristocratic privileges and corruption has influenced French thinking about the the proper role of the judicial branch since the French Revolution.

Feutry explains that the organization of the Parlement’s documents and finding aids and the often labyrinthine procedural histories of the cases make researching the files a daunting task.

“It is a complex business to find a case or judgment in the registers of the Parlement. Not only is the date of a decision required, but the way in which the matter was decided; something brought for a hearing might have been through every stage, from hearing right through to a final decision by one of the chambers of Inquests. In that case different stages of its progress would be recorded separately in all the series of the Parlement’s records.” … “a case is unlikely to be found in a single user friendly archival unit.”

In addition to the complexity of Parlement registers, the author reminds us that fires and deliberative destruction destroyed many valuable records.The article also provides an excellent diagram showing the many different paths a case could take through the chambers of the Parlement of Paris.

The Historian’s Mountain of Paper: the Parlement of Paris and the Analysis of Civil Suits in the Eighteenth Century
David Feutry
translated by Bill Doyle
26 French History 277 (2012)

French Patent Cases in English

Véron & Associés, a French patent litigation firm, maintains a database of  French patent court opinions translated into English. The judgments are from Parisian district courts, court of appeals, and the Cour de Cassation.  Years of coverage are 2001 through 2012. The quality of the translations is excellent, preserving the substance of the legal holdings without sacrificing readability. They also provide copies of the original French language opinions.

French Patent Case Law in English:
http://www.frenchpatentcaselaw.info/
http://www.veron.com/en/FPCL.asp

Hat tip to Jean Gasnault

French Law 2012-287: Database of Digitized 20th Century Books

Law 2012-287 was published in the Official Journal of France on March 2, 2012. The law, which amended France’s Intellectual Property Code, proposes building a free, public database of digitized books that were published in the 20th Century and are no longer in commercial distribution. The Bibliothèque national de France (BNF) would be in charge of creating and administering the database.

Publishers and rights holders will have 6 months to challenge inclusion of a book in the database. It also appears that after raising a challenge, publishers have three years to demonstrate a market for the book, or that they have created their own digitized version.

I did not see a specific appropriation of funds in the bill, so it is unclear to me how the BNF will finance the project.

Reaction on French law librarian mailing lists and blogs has been positive, but muted. Wait and see seems to be the prevailing sentiment.

Whether this bill leads to a free database or not, let’s hope that it spurs debate in France, Europe, and across the Atlantic, about the role of digitized books in society.

Law 2012-287 relative à l’exploitation numérique des livres indisponibles du XXe siècle.

http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/jopdf/common/jo_pdf.jsp?numJO=0&dateJO=20120302&numTexte=1&pageDebut=03986&pageFin=03988

Full-text of the bill and links to legislative history materials are available at

http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/13/ta/ta0865.asp

Some authors’ groups have already criticized the bill for ignoring copyright law. For example, see the petition circulated by writer Yal Ayerdhal:

http://www.petitionpublique.fr/?pi=P2012N21047

Additional commentary on the bill from the Rue89 blog

http://www.rue89.com/rue89-culture/2012/03/03/numerisation-des-livres-quon-nedite-plus-qui-y-gagne-229855

Festival Justice et Cinema

La Rochelle, France offers an annual justice and film festival – Festival Justice et Cinema. Now in its third year, the 2011 edition was held June 10th and11th.

Each year’s festival offers a different theme, with this year’s films focusing on  screen portrayals of investigating magistrates (juge d’instruction)

 In addition to screening  films, the festival also offers discussions by legal practitioners, film critics, journalists, and academics.

http://www.festivaljusticeetcinema.fr/

The Web site also includes a biblioghraphy.

Law, Justice and Film

Looks like the University Jean Moulin and the Bar Association of Lyon’s conference on law and narrative cinema is turning into an annual event. The 2nd annual meeting was held in late March in Lyon. In addition to panels, the conference also screened films. Participants included screenwriters, directors, attorneys, professors, and administrative judges.

Les Rencontres Droit, Justice & Cinema 2011
Les questions de Droit et de Justice abordées par le prisme du cinéma de fiction
Lyon, France. March 21-25, 2011
http://lesmistons.typepad.com/files/dp-comoedia—rencontres-djc-20115.pdf

2010 Conference
http://www.barreaulyon.com/Le-Barreau-de-Lyon/Actualites/Rencontres-Droit-Justice-et-Cinema

Hat tip to the Law and Cinema Blog (Le Blog Droit et Cinéma)
http://lesmistons.typepad.com/blog/

Documentary on Jean Monnet

Professor Don Smith of the University of Denver Strum College of Law has produced and posted a 90 minute documentary  on the life of Jean Monnet, one of the architects of the European Community. The film provides an interesting look into the genesis of the institutions that produced the European Union and the remarkable life of Jean Monnet.

Jean Monnet Father of Europe

http://www.law.du.edu/index.php/jean-monnet-father-of-europe

From the project description:

Jean Monnet has been called “The Father of Europe” by those who see his innovative and pioneering efforts in the 1950s as the key to establishing the European Coal and Steel Community, the predecessor of today’s European Union.

Jean Monnet’s concept of “European community” was aimed at ending the ceaseless wars on the European continent and enhancing prosperity. And yet today in Europe – to say nothing of the rest of the world – Monnet is often a forgotten historical figure, his contributions to peace and prosperity in Europe largely overlooked.

In commemoration of this 20th century giant, 18 months ago Don C. Smith, who teaches “European Union Law & Policy” and “European Union Environmental Law & Policy” at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, embarked on an effort to produce a video documentary explaining who Monnet was and what his legacy is.

Mr. Smith’s interviews capture the observations and insight of those who worked with Monnet in the key years of the 1950s as well as individuals who have been influenced by Monnet’s contributions to European integration.

hat tip to Joan Policastri

Book on French Legal Information

Stéphane Cottin, French lawyer and librarian,  has published a new book on legal information in France.

La gestion de la documentation juridque (Management of Legal Information)

Stéphane Cottin and Cédric Manara

L.G.D.F. Lextenso éditions, 2011

The book not only covers how to find legal resources, but also indicates how legal information is produced and disseminated in print and online.

Written for students and legal professionals.

Table of contents available here:

http://www.lextenso-editions.fr/ouvrages/document/229885

Book preface available here:

http://www.cedricmanara.com/reprint/preface-du-livre-de-stephane-cottin-la-gestion-de-la-documentation-juridique-lextenso-editions/

Book Review: Revue Bibliographique – Le Blog Droit Administratif

The Droit Adminsitratif blog publishes every two month a very handy compilation of new French language titles called “Revue bibliographique.”  The revue includes cover images, summaries, and table of contents.  Book includes various legal topics, not just administrative law. Highly recommended for collection management and acquisition librarians.  The blog also has an interesting “droit et cinema” category.

Le Blog Droit Administratif

http://www.blogdroitadministratif.net/index.php/

Revue Bibliographique Nov/Dec 2010

http://www.blogdroitadministratif.net/index.php/2011/01/01/262-revue-bibliographique-novembre-decembre-2010

Curious footnote: Legal Research at French Law Firms

Prof. Pierre-Yves Gautier’s book chapter ” The Influence of Scholarly Writing Upon the Courts in Europe” includes this curious endnote:

“It is the author’s understanding that in some of the major law firms in France partners prohibit junior solicitors from doing research mostly on the internet or databases. Research must always start on paper.”

See Pierre -Yves Gautier. The Influence of Scholarly Writing Upon the Courts in Europe in Mary Hiscock and William van Canegem (eds.). The Internationalisation of Law: Legislating ,  Decision-Making, Practice and Education. Edward Elgar, 2010. page 210.

Perhaps some  of our readers in France or those with experience in Parisian firms could confirm this. If true, I wonder if cost or research methodology is the primary motivation for restricting online resources?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Article: The Use of Foreign Decision by Constitutional Courts – A Comparative Analysis

SSRN has posted an article on the use of foreign law by constitutional and supreme courts. The author looks at the use of foreign law in constitutional law cases by courts in Australia, Austria, Canada, France, South Africa,  and Switzerland. The article is only available in Spanish.

The Use of Foreign Decision by Constitutional Courts – A Comparative Analysis

Rodrigo Brito Melgarejo

In Dret, Volume 2 (2010)

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1639031

http://www.indret.com/pdf/720_es.pdf

Abstract:

Despite the relevance of comparative law in constitutional adjudication has repeatedly been at the center of heated debates, in recent years, an increasingly transnational constitutional dialogue between justices has developed in many countries. Some members of a large number of constitutional courts have embraced the possibility of considering the constitutional decisions of other nation’s courts because the potential benefits of comparative constitutional learning are many. Considering other national court decisions or explaining disagreements with them, for example, may stimulate judges to rethink principles or priorities in ways that alter their own constitutional perspective and to find new valuable arguments that renew its own stock of constitutional ideas.

This paper aims at analyzing the way some constitutional courts are using foreign decisions in constitutional interpretation and tries to demonstrate that comparative constitutional reasoning tends every day more vigorously to universality.