REVIEWERS of the last edition, though kindly, were agreed on one thing: that it was too difficult. In an attempt to meet their criticisms, this edition has been completely revised, both in plan and in content.
It now begins with a fairly lengthy Introduction, largely in English and designed to explain to the student the necessary background and the crucial division of French law. That division is then followed in the rest of the book, which consists of extracts in the original French usually prefaced by observations in English. The first Part deals with public law: its section on Constitutional Law sets out the major sources of, and the main controls in, this basic area. Its second section sketches the structure and domain of administrative law, while its last sub section tries to provide a fairly simple illustrative example. The second Part is devoted to private law. Its first section gives the basic texts on the field's categories, sources, and structure, illustrated by the contract materials in the second section.
Major alterations in the substance of the texts included were imposed by the legal and political developments which have occurred in France during the last decade. The Conseil constitutionnel -- an innovation of 1958 -- now bids fair to become a Supreme Court.1 It has kept the Parliament scrupulously within a Bill of Rights, and in doing so has been forced to reflect on the fundamental principles of the law of the Republic. Although the Parliamentary opposition has frequently referred legislation to the Conseil, hoping to attain by a lawsuit what it cannot achieve by a vote, the Conseil has acted with prudence and independence, setting fair limits around both the nationalizations of the early and the privatizations of the mid-1980s. For just over two years from March 1986 a socialist President had to live with (the French called it cohabitation) a non-socialist majority in the legislature. That Charles de Gaulle's Constitution stood the strain is -- at least to a lawyer -- in no small measure due to the Conseil constitutionnel.____________________