Specificity of the interpretation of constitutionality in the Fifth Republic in France

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Author: Dar'ya Kalish

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2021-3-125-140

Keywords: Constitutional Council of France; constitutional review; Council of State; France; law; regulation


In France, the understanding of the constitutionality of law and the wider institution of constitutional control have interesting features, especially when compared to other countries that use the traditional, legal European (Kelsen’s) model. These include the originality of the standard, against which legislative acts are checked. It is the so-called constitutional bloc, which, in addition to the 1958 Constitution itself, includes the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen of 1789, the Preamble to the 1946 Constitution, the 2004 Environmental Charter, as well as the principles to which the Constitutional Council attaches constitutional significance. A feature of French public law in accordance with the 1958 Constitution is the non-universal legislative competence of parliament and the delimitation of the areas of regulation of law and regulations (government acts). In this regard, one of the requirements for the constitutionality of the law in France is that it should not interfere with the sphere of regulatory power, that is, it should not touch upon issues that are not attributed to the subject of legislative regulation by the Constitution. However, Parliament’s violation of the delimitation of legislative and regulatory regulation established by the Constitution does not include the unconstitutionality of the corresponding law (its individual provisions), instead only allowing the Government to amend them by its decrees. For a long time in France, there was only preliminary constitutional control over laws, legislative proposals submitted to a referendum, regulations of the chambers of Parliament and international treaties. As a result of the 2008 constitutional reform, a specific, subsequent constitutional review was introduced. It can be initiated in the Constitutional Council by the Court of Cassation or the Council of State upon an appeal, respectively, by a court of general jurisdiction or an administrative court, before which a statement is made that the law being applied to the dispute under consideration violates constitutionally guaranteed human rights. The institution of subsequent constitutional review has proved to be in great demand, and currently, most of the Constitutional Council’s decisions are made within its framework. In modern France, the development of legislation is significantly influenced by EU law. However, neither the Constitutional Council nor the Council of State directly monitor the compliance of laws and regulations with international treaties and EU law.

About the author: Dar'ya Kalish – Research Fellow; Ph.D. Student (2015–2018), Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University), Moscow, Russia.

Citation: Kalish D. (2021) Spetsifika traktovki konstitutsionnosti v Pyatoy respublike vo Frantsii [Specificity of the interpretation of constitutionality in the Fifth Republic in France]. Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol.30, no.3, pp.125–140. (In Russian).


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