Article Title

The Development of the Theory of the Right to Privacy in France

Publication Title

Washington University Law Quarterly


Lacking legislative enactments on the right to privacy, French courts had to tackle the problems of privacy from case to case, in the common law way; but judicial decisions did not establish any general principles. While American and English judgments are elaborate and lay down legal theories, French decisions are extremely short, failing in some instances to give a clear picture of the facts, omitting the discussion of various aspects of the problem and abstaining from developing solid theoretical bases for their holdings. It is well known that French judgments are written in the form of a recitation which has only commas or semi-colons between the ideas expressed and thus constitutes only one sentence, however long it may be. The task of establishing a legal theory of the right to privacy was thus left to the legal writers. The purpose of the following introductory observations to the French law of privacy is to present the ideas on this subject which have been expressed by scholars and commentators. This body of materials, known as LA DOCTRINE, is an important source of the law in the civil law world.