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French ordinance on electronic publication of the ’Official Gazette’

samedi 21 février 2004, par Stephane Cottin

Toutes les versions de cet article : [English] [français]

As recently said by the Prime minister, the ordinance n° 2004-164 of Feb. 20th, 2004 relative aux modalités et effets de la publication des lois et de certains actes administratifs (on the publication and enactement of some acts and regulations has been published today on the Journal officiel (official gazette). It radically changes the process of publication / proclamation of French acts and regulations, formerly organized by a Napoléon’s Act of 1804. After this Ordinance, French Law could be published only by electronic way !

(See also here for a little history of the French ’electronic legal documentation’).

This ordinance has been published with a Rapport (Rapport au Président de la République de l’ordonnance n° 2004-164 du 20 février 2004 relative aux modalités et effets de la publication des lois et de certains actes administratifs), in order to explain the text. (It’s rare for French text to be published with their ’rapports’)

Context of the French Law : an ’Ordinance’ is a text taken by the Govenrment in the domain normally reserved to the Parliament (the legislative power), because of a former ’loi d’habilitation’. This former Act is the loi n° 2003-591 du 2 juillet 2003 habilitant le Gouvernement à simplifier le droit.

After few months (normally three), an ordinance must be formally enacted by a ’normal’ Act of the Parliament, but, in the middle, the ordinance has the value of an Act.

For this Ordinance, the essentials are in :
- the rewriting of the article 1 of the 1804 Code civil (the famous Napoleonic Code), (the first time since... 1816 !)
- legal status of the principles of "free and permanent" law
- nothing for the situation if the overseas territories (the biggest difficulty for the French law because of the huge distances between them)
- the enactment of the ordinance is postponed to June 1st

So, after the 1st of June, Acts and regulations could be proclaimed and immediately enacted by their publication on the Internet : see the official legal portal for France = Legifrance www.legifrance.gouv.fr, spreading French law freely since 1998.

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