In July 2018, the French Minister of Justice invited Jean-Pierre Ancel, a former judge of the Cour de cassation (French supreme court for private and criminal matters) to establish a working group for the purpose of reflecting on the codification of French private international law.
In March 2022, the working group handed its work to the Ministry of Justice. It includes a draft code of private international law of 207 provisions, and an explanatory report.
The working group was essentially composed of judges and academics. It included very few members of the bar, and no corporate lawyers (whether from the bar or in house).
National Codification in a Context of EU Harmonisation
As all readers will know, the private international law of EU Member States is dominated by EU legislation. EU Regulations are of universal application in the field of choice law. They occupy a large part of the field of jurisdiction and enforcement of foreign judgments.
Of course, the working group and the draft code recognise this fact, and the working group has abstained to propose rules on issues clearly regulated by EU law.
Nevertheless, one wonders whether it is really worth codifying private international law at national level, and whether it would not be more useful to promote codification at EU level (GEDIP has been reflecting on this for a while and EAPIL has also established a working group).
Interestingly, the Minister of Justice alluded to the issue in its letter inviting judge Ancel to establish the working group (reproduced in annex to the explanatory report). The Minister insisted that a French code would help promoting French law in European and international circles where, the Minister stated, more modern and accessible foreign legislations prevail. This likely explains why the explanatory report states that codification of French private international law will improve the attractiveness of French law.
Presentation of the Code
On 21 October 2022, the French Committee of Private International Law will organise a conference aimed at presenting the draft code.
In the coming weeks, the EAPIL Blog will publish presentations and commentaries of the most salient provisions of the draft code by French and European scholars. The Editors invite readers interested in contributing to this debate to contact them.
I Think that inspite of the effort of harmonization through EU law, it remains limited. So the codification will be beneficial for private actors in international relationships in general as it will clarifies the state of law. Many issues have been the subject of hesitations through French courts. it is important to bear in mind that predictability is a key objective for private international relationships. I Think codification is always a development in private international law rather than regression.