Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Navarra
Urabayen, Miguel. ""Antecedentes históricos de la clausula de conciencia: el modelo francés"". Persona y Derecho, 4 (1977) : 247-336.
The French Union of Journalists which had been constituted in 1918 drew
up, in the early part of 1933, a Professional Statute in which there were to be
found those labor rights that French journalists had long been fighting for in
vain against the patrons of the French press.
The Statute was presented as a bill in the Chamber of Deputies and became
Law on March 29th, 1935, thanks to the brilliant preparation and defense carried
out by Emile Brachard.
One of the articles of the French law lays down the groundrules by which
journalists can break away from the contract and the newpaper to which they
had formerly been bound, alleging reasons of conscience, and still receive
indemnization equal to that to which they would have been entitled had they
been fired unjustly.
This conscience clause -which is so extraordinary from the point of view of
labor legislation- already existed in other European countries. In this respect.
Italy provided at the same time both the oldest and most complete antecedents.
Between 1935 and the present, the conscience clause as it applies to
French journalists has been exercised frequently and with very few problems.
The author estimates that the total number of cases add up to around two
thousand, out of which only a few dozen had to be settled in court. The sentences
dictated have in fact widened the scope of the clause's application and made
it to include al/ the intellectual staft employed by any publication and -in one
case- the publication itself against one of its own editors.
Today the conscience clause is held by French journalists to be an incomplete
solution to a problem which greatly exceeds the scope contemplated by
the authors of the 1935 Law. What is sought today is the true participation of
the entire editorial staft in the publication's decision making process.
There does not exist in Spain any conscience clause but journalists are at
the present moment pushing very hard in its favor. The author of this article
examines the possible ways by which it could be recognized in this country,
either from the starting point of already-existing legislation or else through
its inclusion in a Statute on Information, in his opinion, the latter seems to
be the most suitable of the possibilities examined.
Final/y, as an annex to the text, the author includes the entire brief of the
famous report drawn up and defended by Deputy Brachard. Thanks to his highly
reasoned and extremely documented exposition,. this brief was one of the essential
elements which led to the approval of the French Statute as Law in 1935.