The French Bifurcation

Mitchel de S.-O.-l’E. Lasser

in Judicial Deliberations

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780199575169
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191706714 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in European Law

The French Bifurcation

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This chapter examines the Cour de cassation in France, which has generally been considered the archetype of civilian judicial theory and practice. Three major American comparative analyses — those produced by Roscoe Pound, John Dawson, and Duncan Kennedy — share a deeply pragmatic, realist (or proto-realist or post-realist, as the case may be) distrust of the syllogistic and apparently formalist style of the French civil judicial decision. All three analyses assume that something must be going on behind the facade of the French judicial decision, and that what is going on turns out to be judicial lawmaking. This chapter argues, however, that French judicial argument is bifurcated into two distinct spheres. In addition to the syllogistic argumentative sphere of the official French judicial decision, a vibrant — though well hidden — discursive sphere exists within the French civil judicial system. In this sheltered argumentative space, French magistrates argue not so much in terms of textual deduction, but rather in terms of the advantages and disadvantages of adopting one judicial interpretation over another.

Keywords: Cour de cassation; France; civil judicial decision; judicial lawmaking; judicial argument; judicial system; magistrates; judicial interpretation

Chapter.  16059 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Law

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