The Henri Capitant Association of Friends of French Legal Culture, which celebrates its 75th birthday this year, has undertaken numerous initiatives, all aimed at showcasing the values and methods of the continental, or civil law, legal culture.
It organizes numerous conferences. Preeminent among them are the International Days, which have been held since its inception, and the proceedings of which are published in a collection which today includes more than sixty volumes. Each year, these International Days revolve around a theme that involves various branches of the law (private and public, national and international), and bring together lawyers from some thirty countries in Europe, America, Africa and Asia. The Henri Capitant Association has also held, over the past several years, International Meetings on a smaller scale, during the course of which two or more of its groups exchange their points of view on current themes, as well as national colloquia which allow each of its groups to reinforce their reach within their countries, and which, in France, are dedicated to the study of a legal issue, or discussions of the works of an author.
The Henri Capitant Association has been involved in the process of reforming the French civil law, an effort undertaken at the onset of this 21st century. Thus, three groups composed of members of the Association, and sponsored by it, have worked with a view toward the reform of the Security interest Law, which has since been enacted into law, and has worked on drafts of reforms to the Law of Obligations and to Property Law. In the same spirit, the Association has very actively participated in the European network, which is tasked with updating a common frame of reference with the drafting of a European contractual instrument for contracts entered into within the European Union.
Very special mention must be made of the Vocabulaire juridique [Legal Vocabulary], the work published by Henri Capitant in 1936, and later entirely reworked under the direction of Gérard Cornu, to whom we owe the succeeding editions that have been appearing for more than twenty-five years. The work enjoys an international influence, as evidenced by its translation into several languages.
With the creation of the Revue de Droit Henri Capitant or Henri Capitant Law Review, the Association is embarking upon a new adventure. The undertaking is ambitious because this Review will be drafted in two languages – in French and in English – and will be the object of a dual publication, in digital format and in hard copy. But it is up to the challenge, which seems vital to meet: ensuring a better knowledge of the law of civil law countries, of their legislation, of their jurisprudence and of their doctrines, by supporting their dissemination throughout the world. In order to succeed in this undertaking, it would not be possible, in fact, to disregard either the English language or the digital media, which have become means of communication that are unavoidable. And although it is true that translation carries a risk of betrayal, and particularly so with regards to legal subject-matter, it is nonetheless a risk well worth taking. After all, certain civil law jurisdictions, such as Québec, state their laws in several languages.
Each issue of the Review, which will be published every six months, will address a single theme, selected for its interest from the standpoint of comparative law, and will bring together laws, judicial decisions and studies of yesteryear, as well as of today. All suggestions, wherever they may come from, will be welcomed.
This new editorial undertaking will attain its objective if it allows – on the one hand – those countries with a continental tradition, whose languages and laws are varied, to follow their respective developments and to better increase the awareness of their common values and – on the other hand – to create a flow of fruitful exchanges with those countries hailing from the Common Law tradition.