Research Subjects: Government & Politics

General Provisions






Law for Reorganizing the Judicial System

March 18, 1800 (27 Ventôse, Year VIII).

By this measure Napoleon introduced some important changes in the judicial system of France and gave it substantially the form which it has borne ever since.
Readers please note: Substantial sections of this document were not presented in the reference work, hence the numerous omissions below.


Title I. General Provisions.

  1. The department civil and criminal tribunals and the tribunals of correctional police are suppressed; nevertheless, they shall continue their functions until the installation of the new tribunals.
  2. There is nothing changed, however, in the laws concerning the justices of the peace and the commercial judges, who shall continue to exercise their functions until it has been otherwise ordered.


Title II. Of the Tribunals of First Instance.

  1. There shall be established a tribunal of first instance per communal district.
  2. The tribunals of first instance shall have original and final jurisdiction of civil matters in the cases determined by law; they shall likewise have jurisdiction in matters of correctional police; they shall pass upon appeals from the judgments rendered in the first instance by the justices of the peace.


Title III. Of the Tribunals of Appeal.

  1. There shall be established twenty-nine tribunals of appeal, in the places and for the departments as follows: ...
  2. The tribunals of appeal shall decide upon appeals from judgments in first instance rendered in civil matters by the district tribunals and upon appeals from judgments of first instance rendered by the commercial tribunals.


Title IV. Of the Criminal Tribunals.

  1. There shall be a criminal tribunal in each department.


  2. The criminal tribunals shall have jurisdiction, as in the past, over all criminal cases; they shall decide upon the appeals from the judgments rendered by the tribunals of the first instance in matters of correctional police.


Title VI. Of the Tribunal of Cassation.

  1. The tribunal of cassation shall sit at Paris in the place determined by the government.
    It shall be composed of forty-eight judges.


  1. The tribunal shall be divided into three sections, each of sixteen judges.
    The first shall decide upon the admission or rejection of petitions in cassation or as to prejudice, and definitively upon the applications as to the rulings of judges and as to transfers from one tribunal to another.
    The second shall pronounce definitively upon applications in cassation or as to prejudice, when the petitions shall have been accepted.
    The third shall pronounce upon the applications in cassation in criminal, correctional and police matters, unless there should be need of prior judgment of admission.
  2. ..

  1. Besides the functions given to the tribunal of cassation by article 65 of the constitution, it shall pronounce upon the rulings of the judges when conflict arises between several tribunals of appeal or between several tribunals of first instance not resorting to the same tribunal of appeal.
  2. There is no opportunity for cassation against the judgments in the last resort of the justices of the peace, except for cause of incompetency or of excess of power, nor against the judgments of military and naval tribunals, except, likewise, for cause of incompetency or excess of power proposed by a non-military citizen, or [one] assimilated to the military by the laws, on account of his functions.




Title: The constitutions and other select documents illustrative of the history of France, 1789-1901
Author(s): Anderson, Frank Maloy, 1871-
Publication: Minneapolis, The H.W. Wilson company,
Year: 1904
Description: xxvi, 671 p. p., 20 cm.


Dickinson, Revolution and Reaction in Modern France, 44-45; Lanfrey, Napoleon, I, 441-446.

For an adequate idea of what Napoleon did in the way of judicial reform his codification of French law must also be noticed. This cannot be shown here by documents, but some of the following accounts of it should be read: Dickinson, Revolution and Reaction in Modern France, 46; Fyffe, Modern Europe I, 258-260 (Popular ed., 178-175): Cambridge Modern History; IX, Ch. VI; Fournier, Napoleon. 230-232: Rose, Napoleon, I, 265-271; Sloane, Napoleon, II, 142-144 ; Lavisse and Rambaud, Histoire générale, IX, 241-248.



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