Journal Officiel of 20 March 1996
The Law of 4 August 1994 relative to the use of the French language
was completed by several regulations : the decree of 3 March 1995
notably defining breaches of the law and related penalties, and
the order of 3 May 1995 authorising five associations for the
defence of the French language to take legal action.
This circular, dated 19 March 1996, supplements these regulations
by defining the scope of the law, particularly as regards the
use of the French language for the marketing of goods and services,
during seminars and conventions, in companies and education.
Paris, 19 March 1996
From the Prime Minister to the ladies and gentlemen, the ministers
and secretaries of State.
1 - Purposes of the Law
The law of 4 August 1994 relative to the use of the French language
replaces the law of 31 December 1975, extending its scope and
strengthening its provisions.
This text is the tangible rendition of the constitutional principle
recognised in 1992 according to which the language of the Republic
is French. It lays down the mandatory, but non-exclusive use of
the French language in specific areas defined so as to guarantee
the right of citizens to use their language in certain circumstances
of their daily lives.
However, the aforementioned text neither includes nor provides
for a list of terms or expressions which may be prohibited or
whose use may be made compulsory.
Nevertheless, lists of terms recommended for use have been drawn
up by terminology commissions. These lists are regularly published
in the Journal Officiel. They may also be consulted on
France Télécom's Minitel server. (36-17 NORMATERM)
2 - Scope of the Law
The law concerns private persons as well as public persons. However,
some of these provisions are more restrictive for public corporate
bodies and for private persons undertaking a public service assignment
(see point 2.6).
3 - Ensuring Compliance with the Law
4 - Coming into force of the law
Pursuant to the terms of Article 23 of the law, the provisions
of Article 2 were to come into force on the date of publication
of the application decree and those of articles 3 and 4, six months
after this date. Considering that decree No. 95-240 of 3 March
1995 set down for the application of the law was published in
the Journal Officiel of 5 March 1995, the whole of the
law of 4 August 1994 has been applicable in France since 7 September
Goods and products introduced into the national territory before
7 March 1995, date on which Article 2 of the law came into force,
may continue to be marketed under their initial presentation until
depletion of stocks and no later than 7 March 1996.
All questions concerning the application of the present circular
should be addressed to the Délégation générale
à la langue française.