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The french judicial system

The french judicial system

The French judicial system is composed of two major types of court: the administrative and judiciary.

The competence of the administrative cover disputes involving the administration (government, local authorities, public services ...). The supreme administrative court order is the State Council.

The judiciary: authorized to settle disputes in civil matters and in particular disputes between individuals, commercial disputes or litigation and criminal matters before the Supreme Court is the Supreme Court.

The jurisdiction of a court, also called "spring" means:

the extent of the geographical jurisdiction of a court or jurisdiction
the type of litigation that may be brought to judge
amounts within which it can decide
amounts beyond which it pronounces judgments are appealable.
When the victim of prejudice is civil, it can seek redress in the form of damages and interest including, the damage that has been caused. The criminal trial allows for him to punish the person who violated the criminal law.

The judiciary is divided into two branches: the courts of civil and criminal courts in the order.

Moreover, for greater legal certainty, the principle of double degree of jurisdiction based legal organization, which allows retrial for a second time by a court of a higher degree.


Local jurisdictions - Judge proximity:

The local court in civil matters has jurisdiction to decide civil disputes of everyday life on amounts of less than 4,000 euros, as such disputes to the action of restitution of deposit guarantee lower than 4000 euros under a residential lease, neighborhood conflicts ...

District Court (IT):

The district court has jurisdiction to decide disputes of everyday life or on sums between 4000 and 10 000, such as for example matters relating to guardianship, housing, shares boundary or requests relating to leases residential leases regardless of the amount of litigation consumer credit ...

The exhaustive list of areas of jurisdiction of the Tribunal d'Instance found in Articles R 221-3 and following of the Code of Judicial Organization.

Tribunal de Grande Instance (TGI)

Must be brought before the district court civil cases involving more than EUR 10,000 and are not covered by other specific jurisdictions.

TGI has to resolve particular cases concerning persons and family (civil status, matrimonial, inheritance, divorce, parental authority ...), matters concerning the law of real property (foreclosures securities, etc ... ) or business, the amount is unknown.

Labour Court (CPH)

CPH has jurisdiction to decide disputes relating to the employment contract. Conflicts between employees and employers are brought before this court (redundancy pay, harassment ...).

Commercial Court (TC):

The Commercial Court is especially competent to decide disputes between traders or on commercial transactions. It also hears cases of business failure.


Local court:

In criminal cases, the local judges are competent to judge the first four classes of offenses.

Police court

The police court judge contraventions of the fifth class punishable by fines, restrictions or deprivation of rights, additional penalties.

This can for example be violations of the Code of the road, press offenses, injuries resulting in incapacity for less than 10 days, all tickets for hunting, fines for labor law violations in the field of consumer law.

Criminal Court

The criminal court is the main criminal court. It is competent to try offenses, offenses that the law punishes with imprisonment up to 10 years (as well as other penalties such as fines and community service).

Include brought before the criminal court the following offenses: theft, fraud, embezzlement, extortion, aggravated assault, drug trafficking, vandalism.

Court of Assizes

The Assize Court judge crimes, the most serious offenses of the Penal Code.

Before the Assize Court, the penalties are 10 years' imprisonment to a minimum.

Include trial before the Assize Court: murder, rape, incest, armed robbery, the most serious drug trafficking, crimes against humanity ...


Court of appeal

The appellate court, court of second instance, examines and retrial cases already decided by the courts of first instance, such as the Courts and the High Court, the Commercial Court, the Labour Tribunal, the police court or the court.

So that the case can be retried on appeal, the amount claimed must exceed 3720 euros (civil).

Appeal Court of Assize

The Court of Appeal sitting was established by law on the presumption of innocence to retry the cases already decided by another court of assizes.


The Supreme Court oversees the enforcement by the courts.

The Court of Cassation considers that the decisions of last resort (first instance decisions are not appealable and decisions of courts of appeal).

The Court of Appeals has no jurisdiction to decide the merits of the case but only to rule on the law: it gives the interpretation of the law applied at trial.

The Court of Appeals, whose jurisdiction is national, is unique and is based in Paris.

The person who is the subject of the decision is to appeal to the Supreme Court for his appeal to be admissible.

The Court of Cassation can then reverse the decision or dismiss the appeal if it considers that it is unfounded.

If the decision is overturned by the Court of Cassation, a new court is responsible for retrial.


The Administrative Court

The Administrative Court judge disputes between individuals and governments.

May be concerned the acts or decisions of the administration.

Including administrative court hears requests for cancellation or refusal of permission grants, denials, refusals of permits, but also compensation claims as a result of damage caused by the action of administration (including public works), challenges local elections (request for cancellation or reformation) or actions to reduce VAT or direct taxes (income tax, corporation tax, etc.).

Specialized administrative courts

The Administrative Order is composed of specialized courts such as the Refugee Appeals Commission, the County Commission welfare, the disciplinary section professional orders, the Compensation Commission returnees ...


The Administrative Court of Appeal has jurisdiction to review and retry the judgments of the Administrative Courts for which one of the parties is not satisfied with the first judgment.


Supreme administrative court, the Council of State is the ultimate judge of the activities of government: executive, local authorities, independent authorities, public institutions, organizations with public powers.

All disputes that involve a public entity (state, regions, departments, municipalities, public institutions) or a private person charged with a public service (such as professional associations, sports federations) fall (unless a law provides otherwise) of the administrative courts and thus, ultimately, the Council of State.

The Council of State, as the Court of Cassation, check the correct application of the law by the administrative courts.

Publié le 01/08/2013


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