The GlobaLex electronic collection at New York University School of Law has published an updated Research Guide to Belgian Law
by Christoph Malliet, librarian at the Law Library of the Catholic University of Leuven
(I just love the Smurf / Schtroumpf cartoon character in legal robes in the nav bar of the library's collection of research guides - Smurfs are Belgian artist Peyo's creation):
"Belgium is a federal state with a civil law system and is a member of the European Union. These three qualities basically account for the legal system the country has adopted."
"The Belgian state was formed as a constitutional monarchy in 1830, as a compromise between French and Dutch claims, appeased by the British government. At that time, it was already largely influenced by the French legal system and this was laid down in the constitution. The legislative branch was formed by a parliament with two chambers (Chamber and Senate). The King was (and is) the head of state and of the executive branch, but political power is almost entirely in the hands of the government and it’s prime minister. The judicial branch consists of regular courts in different appeal levels (private and criminal law matters), later an administrative court was added (1948). A constitutional court has only been set up in recent times (1980). Although the Belgian state has undergone severe constitutional changes since this date, the court system has still not been touched by these yet."
"The court system still very much resembles the French system where it was derived from (...) The one thing about the court system that could not be the same as in France is of course the use of languages in court. Legal practice has to deal with the fact that the use of either the Dutch or the French language in court depends on the region where the court is established. In Brussels, both languages are used."
Labels: government_Belgium, legal research and writing