Frequently asked questions
The supreme courts will not review the facts of the matter a third time, but will merely determine whether, based on the facts as found by the lower courts acting within their discretion, the decision appealed was issued on proper grounds and correctly applied the relevant legal principles.
Appealing cases to the supreme courts requires specialized lawyers who devote their practice to such matters. In France, these lawyers are the lawyers admitted to practice before the Council of State and the Court of Cassation.
A reporting judge will be designated, and he/she will prepare a report and memorandum and one or more draft decisions. The file will then be forwarded to the office of the public prosecutor, which will study the matter and submit an opinion.
At the hearing, the lawyers representing the parties are not heard systematically. On the other hand, the office of the public prosecutor will explain its position in all cases.
The Court of Cassation will issue its decision within one month. If the appeal is denied, the decision appealed becomes irrevocable. A decision may be reversed in whole or in part.
However, if the matter is an appeal, the review begins with an ex parte stage during which the court examines the admissibility of the appeal. The appeal will be accepted only if the court determines that there is at least one ground on which the decision appealed may be reversed, in which case the petition will be forwarded to the defendant.
After the parties have exchanged their briefs, the reporting judge will submit a report and a draft decision, which are not provided to the parties. The matter is then examined by a reviewer and, thereafter, by a public reporting judge, who gives an independent opinion on the dispute.
At the hearing, the public reporting judge reads his/her conclusion, and then the member of the Bar of the Supreme Courts is invited to speak. After the hearing, the lawyer may file a post-hearing submission for the court’s consideration during its deliberations.
Generally, the Council of State issues its decision within three weeks.
Firstly, the parties (the party that raises the issue, a defendant, the Prime Minister and intervening parties, if any) will exchange two sets of briefs. Except for the Prime Minister, the parties must be represented by a member of the Bar of the Supreme Courts or by a member of a local bar association.
Each of the parties will then present oral arguments at the hearing for about fifteen minutes. The hearing is broadcast live on the website of the Constitutional Council.
The Council will render its decision about ten days after the hearing. The proceedings will then resume in the court in which the litigant had filed suit before the preliminary constitutionality issue was raised.
The monopoly granted to the Bar of the Supreme Courts is warranted, firstly, by the demanding and specialized training that is provided by the members of the Bar of the Supreme Courts and, secondly, by the specificity of their duties: they are responsible for drafting legal opinions on the chances of a successful appeal, filtering appeals, drafting grounds for reversal and handling procedures that are subject to specific rules.
Therefore, these correspondent lawyers are an essential source of business for the members of the Bar of the Supreme Courts. The local lawyer will be closely involved in appellate counsel’s reflection at the appeal stage because that lawyer has developed and handled the litigation since it was at first instance and is therefore fully aware of the legal issues raised by the case.
The Cabinet Briard informs its colleague of each stage of the proceedings and will request his/her opinion on draft briefs to be filed before the relevant supreme court.