Expression 'The case is in the bag'

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Legal case in a bag © Archives City of Brussels

The French expression 'L'affaire est dans le sac' (the case is in the bag) has a legal origin.

During the Ancien Régime, lawyers and judges sorted the pieces of a trial in bags of cloth or leather. At the end of the trial the judge could declare: L'affaire est dans le sac or the matter is in the bag. The pieces could then be classified definitely. The case was closed.

Collection of trials at the Archives

The Archives of the City have a large collection of trials that are preserved in the old bags. The bags mention the parties and the date of the case. This collection contains mostly cases of the Aldermen that were treated by the court of the City.

Available online

The collection contains about 20,000 to 30,000 cases. More than 6,200 of these cases are available online via the catalog of Pallas.

Practical information

Rue des Tanneurs 65
1000 Brussels

Tel. : 02 279 53 20
Fax : 02 279 53 29

Opening hours : from Monday to Friday from 8 am to 4 pm (last distribution of documents: 3 pm)
Closing period : 17 April, 1 May, 25 and 26 May, 5 June, from 17 July to 15 August, from 1 to 3 November, 11 November, from 25 December 2017 to 5 January 2018