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
translated by Bill Doyle
26 French History 277 (2012)
Professor Sharafi’s Web on South Asian Legal History site includes a list of citation abbreviations of law reports from the colonial era for Bangladesh, Burma (Myanmar), India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It also includes a useful “Research Guide to the Case Law,” which explains the role of precedent, details major published and unpublished sources of cases, and describes how cases were cited.
Mitra Sharafi’s South Asian Legal History Resources
The Center for Systemic Peace (CSP) was founded in 1997. It is engaged in innovative research on the problem of political violence within the structural context of the dynamic global system, that is, global systems analysis. The Center supports scientific research and quantitative analysis in many issue areas related to the fundamental problems of violence in both human relations and societal development. The focus of CSP research is on the possibilities of complex systemic management of all manner of societal and systemic conflicts. The Center regularly monitors and reports on general trends in societal-system performance, at the global, regional, and state levels of analysis and in the key systemic dimensions of conflict, governance, and (human and physical) development. The Center is now affiliated with the Center for Global Policy at George Mason University.