The French Legal System Essay

The French legal system essay Britain is a common law country in which the system of justice depends heavily on custom and precedent. By contrast, France is a civil law country where the legal system is based entirely on a body of written law commonly called the Code of Law. This translates into less reliance on case law, no straight precedent rule, and to simplify matters, no need in contracts for providing for every single occurrence, which means that a standard agreement might well be ten or twenty pages long instead of one or two hundred pages or more as those commonly used in the U.

S. Worldwide, common Law forms the basis of the law in most English-speaking countries, whereas civil law systems prevail in most of the rest of the world. The basis of the French legal system is laid out in a key document originally drawn up in 1804, and known as the Code Civil,  or Code Napoleon, (Civil code or Napoleonic code). It laid down the rights and obligations of citizens, and the laws of property, contract, inheritance, etc.. The Code Civil remains essential today although it has been updated and extended many times to take account of changing society.

For example,in 1994 a new criminal code was introduced, including clauses on sexual harassment, ecological terrorism, crimes against humanity and maximum jail sentences, which are 30 years. There are other codes, including notably the Code Penal, or Penal code, which defines criminal law. Today there are 55 codes (compilations of laws, decrees, and circulars) governing all branches of French law. The code governs all branches of French law and includes Code Civil, the Code Penal and the Code fiscal. In France there are actually two judicial systems: administrative and judiciary.

The administrative system is responsible for settling lawsuits between the government and the individual. This provides French citizens with exceptional legal protection. Suits are brought to the 22 Tribunaux de Premiere Instance and appeals may be made to the Conseil d’Etat (Council of State). This is one of the most prestigious bodies in France. One of its roles is to advise the government on the conformity of proposed legislation with the body of existing law. The administrative system is the judiciary which is responsible for civil and criminal cases.

The criminal courts include the Tribunaux Correctionels (Courts of Correction), the Tribunaux de Police (Police courts) and the Cours d’Assises (Assize Courts), which try felonies. Appeals are referred to one of the 28 Cours d’Appel (Courts of Appeal). All court decisions are subject to possible reversal by the Supreme Court of Appeals (the Cour de Cassation). France doesn’t have a jury system (abolished in 1941) but a mixed tribunal made up of six lay judges and three professional judges, with convictions decided by a two-thirds majority.

However, in the cour d’assises (see below), nine ordinary citizens make up a jury populaire. LEGAL PROFESSIONS There are several separate kinds of French legal professionals. Training, regulation, and ability to choose clients depend on which branch of the legal profession a professional belongs to. The legal profession in France has traditionally been divided among various types of professionals. In the late eighties the government acted to reduce the number of species of professionals licensed or authorized to render legal services in France. The major professionals involved include

Judges Notaries Public, Avocats Huissiers Administrateurs Judiciaires JUDGES In France judges are regarded a civil servants who provide a service to the public. All judges in France are career professionals who must pass a very competitive examination. Appointments to judicial office are made by the President on a proposal of the minister of justice. In criminal courts the judge has a more active role in the case than in Britain and conducts most of the questioning of the witnesses. A French jury is actually a mixed tribunal where six lay judges sit with three professional judges.

A two-thirds majority of this ‘jury’ may convict. The jury of peers (as used in the UK) was abolished in 1941 in France AVOCAT To become a lawyer in France, you first need to obtain a law Degree, which takes 4 years, and must then pass the Bar exams. The avocats are the oldest legal professions. The closets English equivalent to avocats are English barrister. Normally a person enrolls in a Master of Law program. This Master’s degree will take two years to complete, and specializes in a particular kind of law (public, private, international, etc. ).

Students normally do an internship or research during the second year and then enrols in a specific program to study for the bar. These programs (at institutions called the Centres Regionals de Formation Professionnelle d’Avocat, or CRFPA) are open to students who have finished the first year of their Master’s degree. These programs usually last about a year and a half. After the individual takes an exam to become a licensed lawyer (Certificat d’Aptitude a la Profession d’Avocat, or CAPA). About 36,000 avocats in France (about half practice in Paris)

THE ROLE OF THE AVOCAT Acting as an advocate at pre trial and trial court hearings (known as assistance) Drafting written submissions on behalf of clients (known as representations) Give legal advice and draft documents THE DUTIES OF AN AVOCAT to abide by the canons of the profession to act with dignity, conscientiously, independently, and with humanity. to maintain and preserve the integrity of the confidentiality obligation that he has undertaken in his relationship with his client to educate himself in the law, NOTARIES PUBLIC • 1.

Draw up authenticated/enforceable instruments (actes authentiques) (such as contracts of sale). Some, like marriage contracts, wills, or mortgages, are required to be drawn up by notaires so they have a monopoly in that regard. • 2. Give legal advice re: transactions, business, commerce • 3. Act as officers of the court to draft documentation re company liquidation or divorce settlement. • Notaries enjoy two legal monopolies: conveyancing, i. e. intervening in all sales and purchases of real estate located in France, and granting authenticity to all papers filed y or with them. They are able to advise generally in all matters, but for the most part, they still limit themselves to real estate conveyancing, wills and estates, and advising private clients on their patrimonial interests, often doing private client tax planning. HUISSIERS They can settled conflicts between landlords and tenants, difficulties related to separation or divorce procedures (e. g. access to children)  advises companies about their future partners and obtain the repayment of debts for those companies. The Huissier de Justice can serve as a mediator to try to find an amicable solution to disputes, to avoid lengthy and expensive procedures. • The Huissier de Justice is a conciliator. He/she avoids the recourse to courts and tribunals. He/she in some ways replaces the Justice of the Peace. Hussiers are bailiffs, i. e. officers appointed by the Justice Department for the service of Writs and for carrying out attachments, garnishments and other seizures. They may advise in all legal matters, but for the most part, they confine themselves to debt collections.

Some of them are also court officers (“Huissiers-Audienciers”) and may be appointed as special masters. Administrateurs Judiciaires These are court-appointed insolvency practitioners, who act either strictly as “Administrateurs Judiciaires”, i. e. managing companies undergoing a reorganisation or a workout, or as “Representant des Creanciers” who gather creditors’ claims, or as “Mandataires-Liquidateurs”, who are in charge of the winding-up of bankrupt companies, under the supervision of a judge. [pic]