Laws of France, 1919; town planning and reparation of damages caused by the events of the war online

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October, 1919

• • 'i.?

Copyright, 1919








In the belief that the French laws on town planning and
the reparation of recent war damage, both of which became
effective last spring, would be of direct interest and value to
considerable numbers of American citizens, we have concluded
to publish separately as addenda to the Report of our Foreign
Commission on Industrial Inquiry* translations of these two
laws by Dr. Roscoe Pound, Dean of the Harvard Law School.
These translations, expressed as far as possible in American
legal phraseology, should prove of direct value to any Americans
who are interested in the general subject of town planning or
who have a desire or intention to participate in any way in the
rehabilitation of French industries and homes. We take this
opportunity to extend our sincere thanks to Dean Pound for
his generous and expert assistance.

Charles Mayer, Chcdrman.
Andrew Parker Nevin.
James W. Sullivan.
Albert Farwell Bemis.
E.A. QuARLES, Secretary.

* This publication, in book form and consisting of approximately
400 pages, will be off the press of Messrs. E. P. Button & Company
about October 15. Orders should be addressed to The National Civic
Federation, 1 Madison Avenue, New York City.





Enacted March 14, 1919.

Article 1. Without prejudice to the general plan of street
and building lines and levels imposed upon all communes by
Article 136, Par. 13 of the Statute of April 5, 1884, every city
of 10,000 inhabitants and upwards is required to have a projet
for relaying, improvement and extension [that is, of streets,
ways, squares, etc.]

This projet, which must be drawn up within not less than
three years from the promulgation of the present statute, is to
include :

1. A plan fixing the direction, the size and the character of
the ways to be laid out or modified, determining the site, the
extent and the arrangement of squares, public gardens, play-
grounds, parks and different open spaces, and indicating the
reserved woodlands to be left in their natural condition as well
as the sites intended for monuments and public buildings;

2. A programme fixing the restrictions hygienic, archaeologi-
cal and aesthetic, as well as the other conditions relating thereto,
and particularly the open spaces to be reserved, the height of
buildings, as well as the provisions with respect to distribution
of drinking water, the system of drains, the disposition of gar-
bage, and if required the drainage of the soil ;

3. An order of confirmation by the Mayor with the advice
of the Municipal Council governing the conditions of applica-
tion of the measures prescribed in the plan and the programme.

The same duties are imposed:

1. On all the communes of the Department of the Seine ;

2. On towns of less than 10,000 inhabitants and more than
5,000 inhabitants, the population of which has increased more

than 10 per cent, in the interval between two consecutive quin-
quennial censuses;

3. Upon bathing resorts, seaside resorts, watering places,
health resorts and other pleasure resorts, the population of
which, which gives them their importance, increases 50 per cent,
or more at certain periods of the year ;

4. Upon settlements [literally groups of houses — that is,
small neighborhood places] the importance of which is in their
picturesque or artistic or historic character, which are oflBcially
entered on a list required to be drawn up by the departmental
commissions of natural sites and monuments provided for by
the statute of April 21, 1906 [this law provides for a commission
on historic, picturesque and artistic sites in each department of
France] ;

5. Upon groups of houses or lodging places built up or
developed by associations, companies or individuals [that is,
where any company or association or individual erects a group
of houses or lodgings for the workmen in some enterprise which
it or he is conducting].

Article 2. When a settlement whatever the number of its
population has been wholly or partially destroyed by the events
of war, by fire, by earthquake or by any other catastrophe, the
municipality is bound to cause to be drawn up within three
months a general plan of street and building lines and levels
for the parts which are to be rebuilt as provided for by the
statute of April 5, 1884, together with a summary sketch of the
projet of relaying, improvement and extension provided for in
the first article of the present statute.

An order of the prefect made with the advice of the com-
mission constituted by article 4 of the present statute shall de-
cide whether the settlement shall be restored according to the
lines on which it was formerly laid out, and shall fix the period
of grade [that is before the new lines are to be adhered to].

Until the plan of street and building lines and levels has
been approved no building except provisional shelters shall be
effectual to give the builder legal rights without the authority
of the prefect given upon the advice of the commission consti-
tuted under article 4 of this statute.

Article 3. The cost of the plans and projets provided for
by the preceding articles are to be a state charge with respect


to the communes referred to within the purview of article 2
above, notwithstanding the principle laid down by article 136,
par. 13, of the statute with respect to municipalities of April
5, 1884.

The same rule shall apply to settlements within the purview
of paragraph numbered 4 of the enumeration contained in article
1 of the present statute.

In the case of other communes subventions may be granted
by the decision of the Minister of the Interior rendered upon
application of the prefect of the department and charged upon
the credits entered under this item in the budget of the Minister
of the Interior. They are to be made in a proportion to be
fixed by a decree made in the form prescribed for regulations
of public administration. [This refers to administrative decrees
prescribing rules and regulations such as we are becoming fa-
miliar with in this country and which have long been known in

Abticle 4. In the prefecture of each department a commis-
sion to be presided over by the prefect or his representative is
hereby constituted which shall be styled "The departmental
commission for relaying and extension of cities and villages."
The commission shall be composed of the departmental council
of hygiene, of the departmental commission of natural sites and
monuments, of the departmental commission of civil buildings
and of four mayors appointed by the general council.

This commission shall give hearings to the delegates of so-
cieties of architecture, of art, of archaeology, of history, of agri-
culture, of commerce, of industry and of sport, and to repre-
sentatives of transportation companies in the department as well
as the mayors of cities or communes interested and the repre-
sentatives of different public services of the state which it thinks
ought to be brought together for the purpose or who request
an opportunity to present their views. It may add to its num-
ber secretaries who shall have a deliberative voice in the affairs
which they report. [I have used the word "secretary" here for
'^rapporteurs" because of the analogy of the secretary of com-
missions and boards in this country. No English word will give
exactly the idea. Persons with special information in particular
lines who can make reports to the commission with respect to

those lines are to be added in the discretion of the commission
and are to have a voice in the deliberations of the commission
when the subjects in question are before it. Perhaps "expert"
might be better but there is no requirement that these rappor-
teurs be experts. I should suspect that it would be best to use
the word ^'rapporteur" and then put in an explanation of what
is meant by way of commentary.]

Each commission shall bring together all the necessary docu-
ments required to facilitate the commune in the preparation of
their projets and to guide them.

It shall give its advice :

1. With respect to the projets drawn up by the munici-
palities ;

2. With respect to the departures from the principles laid
down by the superior commission instituted under article 5 of
this law which may be required because of special difficulties
or local needs.

3. With respect to the aesthetic or hygienic servitudes re-
sulting from the projets which are submitted to it. [That is,
as we should say, the easements to which property in the munici-
pality ought to be subjected on aesthetic or hygienic grounds
in carrying out the projets.]

4. With respect to all matters which the prefect considers it
useful to submit thereto.

Article 5. A superior commission on relaying, improvement
and extension of cities under the presidency of the Minister, or
of his delegate, and the vice-presidency of the Minister in charge
of liberated regions, or his delegate, is hereby constituted in the
Ministry of the Interior and is to be made up as follows :

Two senators elected by the Senate;

Four deputies elected by the Chamber of Deputies;

Two Councillors of State in the ordinary service designated
by their colleagues;

Four Mayors of whom three are to be designated by the Min-
ister of the Interior and one by the Minister in charge of liber-
ated regions, of whom two shall represent communes of from
20,000 to 50,000 inhabitants and two communes of more than
50,000 inhabitants;


The director of the departmental and communal adminis-
tration in the Ministry of the Interior;

The director of public aid and hygiene in the Ministry of
the Interior;

Four members of the superior council of public hygiene
designated by their colleagues;

Four members of the superior council of the fine arts desig-
nated by their colleagues;

Four members of the superior council of civil buildings desig-
nated by their colleagues;

Four members chosen from city planners, architects and
other persons particularly qualified, to be designated two by
the Minister in charge of liberated regions and two by the Min-
ister of the Interior.

The commission may add to its number secretaries who shall
have a deliberative voice in the affairs which they report.

This commission is charged with drawing up general rules
to guide municipalities in the application of the present statute,
and shall give its advice upon all questions and all projets which
are referred to it by the Minister of the Interior or the Minister
in charge of liberated regions, either of their own motion or at
the request of the commission itself upon a statement setting
forth the reasons for the request.

Article 6, If the pro jet affects only a single commune, and
except in the case provided for in the 5th paragraph of the
first article (which is governed by article 8 hereinafter with
respect to groups of buildings) the municipal council at the
instance of the mayor shall designate an artist or a society to
which it shall give in charge preparation of the sketch herein-
before provided for and the preparation of plans and projets.

If within two months from the promulgation of the present
statute such designation has not been made the prefect shall
notify the municipal council to proceed within one month to
make the designation, and at the expiration of that period shall
make the necessary designation himself on his own motion.

If the plan has not been drawn up within the time provided
for by articles 1 and 2 above the prefect shall proceed of his
own motion to carry out this requirement at the expense of the
commune, and the commune shall forfeit its right to the sub-
vention provided for in article 3, par. 3, of the present law.


Article 7. When the plan, programme and confirmation
thereof provided for in Article 1 have been drawn up they shall
be submitted, after taking the opinion of the Bureau of Hygiene,
and in default thereof, the opinion of the Sanitary Commission
of the district:

1. To examination by the municipal council ; •

2. To an inquiry under the conditions of the ordinance of
August 23, 1835;

3. To examination by the commission provided for in Arti-
cle 4.

The municipal council is required to give its definite opinion.

If the municipal council refuses or neglects to examine the
plan the prefect shall notify it that it is in default and prescribe
a period of not more than one month within which it is to act, at
the expiration whereof he shall examine the plan himself.

The same rule shall apply in case the municipal council re-
fuses or neglects to give its definite opinion.

The prefect shall transmit the documents, together with his
opinion stating the grounds thereof, to the Minister of the In-
terior who shall consult the superior commission if he thinks it
necessary, and the work which is required to be done in the appli-
cation of the plan shall be decreed to be of public utility by de-
cree of the council of state. In every case of a settlement within
the purview of article 2 of this statute the declaration of public
utility shall be made by a decision of the prefect upon the advice
of the commission constituted by article 4, except so far as con-
cerns settlements enumerated in article 1, for which a decree of
the council of state shall always be necessary.

Article 8. Associations, companies and individuals who un-
dertake the erection or development of groups of buildings are
required to deposit in the office of the Mayor a plan of laying
them out which shall include a plan for adjusting them to the
public ways and if necessary to the conduits of drinking water
and the sewers of the commune.

Within twenty days after depositing this plan it shall be sub-
mitted to examination by the Bureau of Hygiene, or in default
thereof, the Sanitary Commission of the district, then to the mu-
nicipal council and afterwards to an inquiry in accordance with


the forms prescribed by the circular of the Minister of the In-
terior of August 20, 1825.

If the proprietor has served a duly attested notice upon the
Mayor and no action has been taken within one month there-
after the prefect may order the inquiry.

The plan shall then be submitted to the commission provided
by Article 4 above and shall be approved if there is occasion by
a decision of the prefect.

The decision of the prefect is to be made within one month
after the inquiry. In default of a decision within that time the
plan shall be taken to be approved.

If the plan is approved no building shall be built without a
permit from the Mayor according to the conditions provided for
by Article 11 of the Statute of February 15, 1902.

Article 9. In case the projet for reconstruction, laying out,
improvement and extension is such as to affect several communes
of a department the prefect may require a sketch of the projet
as a whole from the municipalities affected and may direct even
on his own motion intercommunal conferences according to the
organization of the communes and in conformity with the require-
ments of Articles 116 and 169 of the Statute of April 5, 1884.

The projet shall be examined and declared a public utility
according to the forms provided by Articles 6 and 7 of this

Abticle 10. If it is expedient that the plan go beyond the
limits of the department it shall be reviewed by the inter-depart-
mental conference according to the provisions of Articles 89, 90
and 91 of the Statute of August 10, 1871, and thereafter shall be
submitted in each commune to the formalities provided for by
Articles 6 and 7 of this statute.

It shall be declared a public utility by a statute which shall
determine the measures necessary for its application.

Article 11. From the publication of the official action de-
claring a plan of reconstruction, relaying, improvement and ex-
tension to be a public utility, or from the decision of the prefect
approving plans with respect to groups of buildings within the
purview of Article 8, the proprietor of land adjacent to the ways


and squares projected must conform to the rules prescribed by
the law relating to building lines and shall not do any new build-
ing without first obtaining a building permit from the Mayor.
No new building shall be done adjacent to the ways and squares
laid out upon the projet except in conformity to the building
lines fixed thereon.

To insure this no building shall be built without a building
permit from the Mayor.




Enacted April 18, 1919.
TITLE I. General Provisions.

Article 1. The Republic proclaims as a principle that all
Frenchmen are to bear equally the expenses of the war. [The
word '^solidarite" used in this connection may be best explained
by referring to the contrast between the ohligatio in solidum of
the Roman law, and the joint and several obligation in our law.
In our law where there is a plurality of creditors they are always
joint creditors, whereas a plurality of debtors may be either joint
or several. In the civil law the obligation may be solidary both
with respect to the creditors and with respect to the debtors —
that is, there may be joint and several debtors as well as joint
and several creditors. All Frenchmen in their capacity of suf
ferers are joint and several creditors, and all Frenchman in theij
capacity of taxpayers are joint and several debtors to repair the
damage. It is almost impossible to put such a conception into
English because we have no occasion for a word to express such
an idea.]

Article 2. Certain, material and direct damage in France
or in Algiers to immovable or movable property caused by the
events of the war shall give rise to the right for the specific
reparation provided by Article 12 of the Statute of December
26, 1914, without prejudice to the right of the French govern-
ment to make claim for payment therefor from the enemy.

In particular the following shall be regarded as damages re-
sulting from the events of the war :


1. All requisitions levied by enemy authorities or troops,
levies in kind in whatever form made, even if under the form of
occupation, billeting or cantonment, as well as imposts, contribu-
tions of war, and penalties whether exacted from individuals or
from collectivities. [French juristic theory thinks of a corpora-
tion as a case of collective ownership, that is to say, what we
should call the property of the corporation is thought of as prop-
erty devoted to collective purposes. So corporations, municipal
corporations, associations, and all manner of groups which have
property devoted to a common or group purpose would be re-
ferred to as a collectivity. We have no such idea and in conse-
quence no such word.]

2. The removal of objects such as crops, animals, trees and
wood, raw material, merchandise, furniture, household goods,
securities and commercial paper; deterioration or destruction,
total or partial, of crops, merchandise, and all manner of mov-
ables, no matter who may have caused these removals, deterio-
rations or destructions ; the loss of movable property whether in
France or abroad in the course of evacuations or repatriations.
[Perhaps I need not say that in the civil law property is divided
into movable and immovable, a distinction not exactly corre-
sponding to our distinction of realty and personalty. Movables
could be very nearly translated by chattels, but it seems prefer-
able to use a term which will not involve any of the historical
anomalies connoted by the word chattel.]

3. Deteriorations of land, whether built upon or not built
upon, including woods and forests; partial or total destruction
of buildings ; deterioration or destruction total or partial of im-
plements, accessories and animals appurtenant to the commer-
cial, industrial, or agricultural use of the land, which for the pur-
poses of the present statute shall be considered as immovable by
destination, whether they belong to the operator or to the pro-
prietor of the land, without inquiry as to who were the authors
of the damage referred to in this paragraph. [This paragraph
refers to a peculiar French doctrine of what are called "mov-
ables immovable by destination. ' ' The Roman law of pertinentia
was substantially the same as our law of fixtures. In the French
feudal law certain things brought upon large feudal estates for
the use of the estate were regarded as becoming appurtenant to


the estate through the purpose of the owner to use them upon
the land for the purpose of operating it as an agricultural enter-
prise. The French civil code, articles 517, 524 and 525 took over
this doctrine and it can also be found in the Louisiana Code,
article 468. According to the French code argricultural imple-
ments, seed furnished to a tenant by the landlord, pigeons in a
pigeon house, rabbits in rabbit warrens, beehives, fish in fish
ponds, presses, boilers, stills, vats and barrels, the tools, imple-
ments and machines necessary for iron works, paper works and
other like industrial enterprises, straw and manure, and all mov-
able property which the owner had shown he intended to use
permanently in connection with the land are immovable by des-
tination. The provision in the present law extends this princi-
ple to everything which was upon the land for the purpose of
operating it in a commercial, industrial or agricultural enter-

4. All damages within the purview of the preceding para-
graphs caused within the zone of frontier defence as well as in
the neighborhood of fortifications and intrenched places, and
those who have rights under this provision shall not be subject
to any defence based upon the statutes and decrees with refer-
ence to military servitudes. In every case in fixing the amount
of indemnity the commissions of valuation shall take account of
the permissive character of constructions built in military zones
in contravention of the statutes and administrative regulations
or by virtue of authorizations subject to a promise to take out
upon request. [Military servitudes above could be translated, if
we had such a thing in our law, military easements — that is re-
strictions upon the rights of owners by way, as it were, of the
easements of the state to do certain things thereon for military
purposes. I suppose we have no such conception. Either we
should take by eminent domain or we should say that there is a
license, as it were, by operation of law. Precaire means sub-
stantially what we mean by permissive when we speak of a per-
missive user of land. Literally a precarium is a holding at will.
I translate engagement, promise. It is a somewhat stronger term.
It means a legally binding promise.]

5. All damage done to boats equipped for fishing. An ad-


ministrative regulation shall determine the procedure to be fol-
lowed in proof and appraisement of the damage.

Damages within the purview of the preceding paragraphs
shall include those caused by the French or allied armies, whether
by reason of measures in preparation for attack, preventive meas-
ures for defence, the necessities of battle and of evacuation of
threatened points, or by reason of the requirements of occupa-
tion in those parts of the territory comprised in the zone of the
armies and in particular requisitions, billets and cantonments;
and power is reserved to the claimant at his election to avail him-
self of the provisions of the statutes of July 10, 1791, and July
3, 1877 and of the decrees of August 2, 1877, November 23, 1886,
and December 27, 1914.

The damages shall be approved and appraised and the indem-
nity fixed with respect to each person injured according to cate-
gories following the classification hereafter provided and in con-
formity with the provisions of the present statute. The injured
person shall have the power to assert at the same time claims for
the different categories of damage to which he has been sub-

Article 3. Individuals and their heirs, associations, public
establishments or establishments of public utility, communes and
departments, shall be admitted to exercise the right hereinafter
defined. [With us the property of charitable institutions, schools,

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