The Right to Freedom of Discussion

  • A. V. Dicey


The Declaration of the Rights of Man2 and the French Constitution of 1791 proclaim freedom of discussion and the liberty of the press in terms which are still cited in text-books3 as embodying maxims of French jurisprudence.


Seventeenth Century Discretionary Power French Legislation Special Tribunal Press Offence 
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  1. 2.
    Duguit et Monnier, Les Constitutions et les principales lois politiques de la France depuis 1789 (1898), Constitution du 3 Sept. 1791, p. 1.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Bourguignon, Elements généraux de Législation française (1873), p. 468.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Déclaration des droits art. 11, Plouard, Les Constitutions françaises (1871–1876), p. 16; Duguit et Monnier, op. cit. p. 1.Google Scholar
  4. 1.
    Odgers, Libel and Slander, Introduction (3rd ed., 1896), p. 12.Google Scholar
  5. 1.
    See Stephen, Digest of the Criminal Law (6th ed., 1904), arts. 96, 97, 98. [To secure a conviction a clear incitement to violence must be proved; The King v. Aldred (1909) 22 Cox 1; The King v. Caunt (1937) unreported.—En.] 2 Ibid. arts. 179–183.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Compare Odgers, Libel and Slander (6th ed., 1929), eh. xiv, with 1st ed., 1881, pp. 13–16.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    The Queen v. Pooley (1857), cited Stephen, Digest of the Criminal Law (7th ed., 1926), p. 160, note 2.Google Scholar
  8. 2.
    See Rocquain, L’Esprit révolutionnaire avant la Révolution (1878), for a complete list of “Livres Condamnés” from 1715 to 1789. Rocquain’s book is full of information on the arbitrariness of the French Government during the reigns of Louis XV and Louis XVI.Google Scholar
  9. 1.
    See Duguit, Traité de Droit constitutionnel (2nd ed., vol. v, 1925), ch. iii, para. 35, pp. 414, 415.Google Scholar
  10. 1.
    See for the control exercised over the press down to 1695, Odgers, Libel and Slander (6th ed., 1929), pp. 10–12;Google Scholar
  11. Holdsworth, History of English Law, vol. vi (1924), pp. 360–379, and vol. x (1938), pp. 28, 29.Google Scholar
  12. 2.
    Gardiner, History of England, vol. vii (1884), pp. 51, 130; ibid., vol. viii (1884), pp. 225, 234; Holdsworth, op. cit., vol. vi (1924), pp. 367–370.Google Scholar
  13. 1.
    See Selden’s remarks on the illegality of the decrees of the Star Chamber, cited Gardiner, History of England, vol. vii (1884), p. 51.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1979

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  • A. V. Dicey

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