On March 9th 2018, the Minister of Justice has unveiled the main lines of the upcoming reform regarding the radical transformation of the French judicial system.
On January 15th 2018 a plan for the radical transformation of the French judicial system was announced (the "Grands chantiers de la justice"), based on 5 key areas, including a plan for digital transformation.
On January 15th 2018, the conclusions of the "Grands chantiers de la justice" (launched on October 5th and 6th 2017 by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice) were presented in light of the 2018-2022 Justice Programming Act and the simplification of Civil and Criminal Justice Bills expected in the spring of 2018.
This presentation detailed plans to radically transform the French judiciary system, in consultation with legal practitioners, based on 5 major areas:
- Digital transformation;
- Improvement and simplification of criminal procedure;
- Improvement and simplification of civil procedure;
- Organization of the judiciary;
- Meaning and effectiveness of penalties.
Several options for reform were outlined, with an emphasis on the digital transformation including: promoting digital mediation, creating single digital files and moving to paper free proceedings in both the criminal and civil field.
The conclusions will be analyzed in the light of (i) the report on open data for judicial decisions, under the direction of Loïc Cadiet, submitted to the Ministry of Justice on January 9th 2018 (the "Cadiet Report"); and (ii) developments in artificial intelligence.
The suggestions made by the "Cadiet Report" in respect of open data for judicial decisions should provide a more reliable and predictable knowledge of judicial decisions assisting companies based in France by improving legal certainty.
The current scope of open data for judicial decisions represents only 1% of the volume targeted by the French Digital Republic Act voted on October 7th (its implementation decree is yet to be published). Making judicial decisions openly available is not without difficulties, it must be done in a manner which respects the delicate balance between open data, which provides predictability, and the protection of business secrecy, crucial for the companies involved.
On March 9th 2018, the Minister of Justice reiterated the government willingness to improve and simplify criminal and civil procedure via digital transformation.
Improvement and simplification of criminal procedure and meaning and effectiveness of penalties
In respect of criminal procedure and the meaning and effectiveness of penalties, the preferred options are the simplification of investigation proceedings, alternative proceedings to prosecution and trial before the Assize court, as well as a better enforcement of penalties, the development of alternative penalties and simplification of penalties.
On March 9th 2018, the Minister of Justice announced the creation of district criminal courts without a jury.
Improvement and simplification of civil procedure
As for the improvement and the simplification of civil procedure – which was partially reformed several times recently – the report suggests simplifying and modernizing civil procedure before first degree jurisdictions, which is the entry point into Justice. Preferred options are alternative dispute mechanisms, the creation of a sole and refocused judicial court, the creation of a single writ of summons, enhanced role of attorneys and the generalization of provisional enforcement.
Organization of the judiciary
The report recommends territorial reorganization of jurisdictions in this respect.
On March 9th, the Minister of Justice announced an adaptation of the territorial organization rather than a reorganization of jurisdictions.
It remains to be seen whether these « challenges », announced by the Chantiers de la justice, open the way for further in-depth reforms or whether they are just aimed to provide consistency with the reforms which have recently come into force?
The plan for the radical transformation of the French judicial system announced on January 15th 2018 is the first step followed by the main lines unveiled on March 9th 2018. The simplification of Civil and Criminal Justice Bills is expected in the spring of 2018 in light of the 2018-2022 Justice Programming Act.
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