Establishment of a civil party by an association

Verified 11 October 2021 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

The formation of a civil party is a claim for compensation for the damage suffered by a person who has been the victim of one or more of them infringements. An association that defends collective interests of general application (e.g. racism, victim assistance) may form civil party under certain conditions. It may also bring a civil action in support of one or more named victims following offenses within its scope.

Associations whose object is one of the following may bring civil proceedings:

  • Combating racism or discrimination based on national, ethnic, racial or religious origin, sex, morals, sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Combating sexual violence and sexual harassment
  • Defense of child victims of abuse
  • Combating crimes against humanity or war crimes
  • Defense of the sick, disabled or elderly
  • Assistance to victims of terrorism
  • Combating exclusion and poverty
  • Defense of veterans and war victims
  • Combating road crime
  • Protection and protection of animals
  • Defense of the French language
  • Defense of the victims of a collective accident
  • Combating drug addiction or drug trafficking
  • Defense of victims of sectarian abuses
  • Defense of victims of industrial accidents or occupational diseases
  • Advocacy for tenants, landlords and landlords
  • Protection of the movable, immovable and intangible heritage
  • Defense of companies and employees
  • Combating slavery, trafficking in human beings and procuring
  • Fight against corruption
  • Defense of victims of hazing
  • Defending the Memory of Slavery
  • Fight against racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism
  • Prevention of violence at sporting events
  • Combating alcoholism
  • Tobacco control
  • Fight against gambling addictions
  • Defending women's rights to access contraception and termination of pregnancy

The following associations may also bring civil proceedings to defend a collective interest :

  • Consumers' Association
  • Family associations
  • Departmental Association of Mayors in all proceedings brought by municipal elected representatives following insults, insults, defamation, threats or assault as a result of their duties

Any foundation recognized as being in the public interest may bring civil action under the same conditions and subject to the same reservations as all of these associations.

In order to be able to become a civil party, the association must, in certain cases, fulfill one or more conditions.


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General case

In principle, if an association suffers direct and personal harm (e.g. damage to its premises, theft of equipment), it can bring a civil action without seniority requirement.

However, when the purpose of the association is to protect certain areas (racism, sexual assaults,...), the association must be declared since at least 5 years from the date of the event in respect of which it is a civil party.

Fight against corruption

For an anti-corruption association, the duration of 5 years must be justified on the date of the formation of the civil party.

Trade union and employee union or defense of the collective interests of companies and employees

In the case of trade unions and trade unions and any association which defends the collective interests of companies and employees, the length of service required at the material time shall be 2 years.

Fight against racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism

An association to combat racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism must be declared since then at least 3 years at the time of the event.

Protection of water, aquatic and marine environments

An unapproved association declared since at least 5 years, the purpose of which is to protect water and the aquatic and marine environment, may bring civil proceedings for acts constituting an infringement of the provisions applicable to water or classified installations.

Heritage protection

An association for the protection of heritage has to be declared since then at least 3 years.


In some cases, the association is required to have a approval. This is the case for the following associations:

  • Association of Victims of Terrorism (Ministry of Justice accreditation)
  • Association de défense de la langue française (accreditation of the ministries of justice and responsible for the francophonie)
  • Association of Victims of Collective Accidents (Ministry of Justice accreditation)
  • Heritage Protection Association (accreditation of the Ministries of Justice and Culture)
  • Anti-corruption association must be (Ministry of Justice approval)
  • Association for the prevention of violence during sporting events (accreditation from the Ministry responsible for sports)

Registration with a department or agency

In some cases, the association must be registered with a department or agency. This is the case for the following associations or organizations:

  • Veterans and War Victims Association must be registered with the National Office of Veterans and War Victims (ONACVG)
  • Associations for the defense of child victims of abuse must be registered with the Ministry of Justice in order to be able to take civil action in cases of rape or dissemination of pornographic images involving minors
  • Federation of Associations for the Defense of Victims of Collective Accidents must be registered with the Ministry of Justice

Victim's agreement

Where the offense has been committed against a particular person, the association must have the agreement of that person in order to become a civil party.

If it is a minor, the association must have the agreement of its parents or the legal representative.

If the person is deceased, the association must have the agreement of its assigns.

Please note

the constitution of civil party of the association does not prevent the victim from also forming civil party.

Criminal trial

In some cases, the association may not be the initiator of the criminal trial but may be associated with it. That is, the public prosecutor must, in advance, have initiated proceedings himself, or following a complaint by a victim, so that the association can be a civil party. This is the case, for example, with defense associations accident at work victims of crime, group accidents,

An association may become a civil party, only, for offenses that are exhaustively listed by law.

For example, an association of parents of pupils may file a civil suit if a pornographic business is set up within 200 meters of a school.

The association may lodge a complaint with the institution of a civil party with the court the place of the offense or the domicile of the person complained of.

It may also bring a civil action before the investigating or trial courts where the public action, that is to say, the prosecution against the offender, has been brought.

Who shall I contact

A non-profit association may apply for legal aid.