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Cour de cassation

The Cour de cassation is the main court of last resort in France.

Appeals are taken from the Cour d'Appel[?]. The court, which is a large, almost legislative body in style, has the sole power of confirming or overturning lower appeal court decisions. Its decisions are extremely brief. It is left to doctrinal writers to explain the import of these decisions which often drastically change the way in which the Civil code or other statutes are interpreted. Unlike the case law of common law courts, the Cour de cassation can only confirm or overturn a decision. When overturned, the case is remanded to one of the Cour d'Appel, but not the one which decided it previously.

The cour de cassation is not the only court of last resort in France. Cases against the state or local authorities are heard by different courts (tribunaux administratifs) and the court of last resort is then the Conseil d'État[?] (which has other, non judicial, duties).

None of this court does judicial review of laws voted by the parliament. Another body does that, the conseil constitutionnel, which technically, is not a court : it does not hear cases. Before the law is enacted, the president of the republic, the president of either house of the parliament, or, more commonly, sixty members of parliament from the same house may ask for a review. Some laws, mostly pertaining to the organisation of government, and called loi organique comes before the conseil constitutionnel for review, without anyone asking. There is no review after a law has been enacted. In particular, there is no review of law enacted before the present constitution came in effect, in 1959. The Conseil d'État does judicial review of decisions of local authorities.

Decisions of the french judiciary may be appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. On occasion, the courts may also request the opinion of the European Court of Justice.

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