Dispute with the administration: refer the case to the Defender of Rights

Verified 03 November 2020 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

If you have a dispute with the administration or a public service (state or local authority service), you can bring the matter before the Defender of Rights. The dispute must be about a malfunction of the public service or the non-execution of a judgment in your favor. The services of the French Defender of Rights are trying as a priority to find an amicable solution to your dispute. They study your request and investigate it before proposing a solution.

The Defender of Rights (or his delegate) may be contacted by an individual (regardless of nationality, age, domicile), an association or a group or a business.

Dispute involving public service

The Defender of Rights (or his delegate) intervenes, on request, in a dispute between you and the following structures:

  • State administration (prefecture, tax center, ministry, etc.)
  • Organization managing a public service (primary health insurance fund, family allowance fund, etc.)
  • Territorial community (town hall, inter-communal trade union, regional council, etc.)
  • Hospital

Nature of the dispute

The problem may be one of the following 2 points:

  • Poor functioning of the public service (slowness, error in decision, lack of response, etc.)
  • Non-execution of a judgment in your favor

Disputes excluded

The Defender of Rights may not intervene in the following disputes:

  • Conflicts over reporting relationships between the administration and its agents
  • Proceedings before a court
  • Challenge of a judgment
  • Dispute with a foreign administration (but may refer the complaint to the appropriate foreigner interlocutor)
  • Private conflict (family, neighbors, shopkeepers, etc)

Before contacting the Defender of Rights, you must make all necessary representations to the relevant public administration or body. For example, introduce a administrative appeal against the contested decision.

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On the spot

You can make an appointment with a representative of the Defender of Rights.

By mail

Who shall I contact


the fact of bringing an action before the Defender of Rights does not interrupt the time limits for bringing an action legal action.

The services of the Defender of Rights are free of charge.

The Defender of Rights first verifies that your request falls within his jurisdiction. If not, it will direct you to the people or organizations that can help you.

If the Defender of Rights considers that your request falls within his or her jurisdiction, he or she will conduct an investigation (gathering information to enable him or her to know the situation in question).

If your request concerns a procedural error, a lack of understanding, a failure of an administration, the Defender of Rights will try to to settle amicably the conflict.

If an amicable settlement is not possible, the Defender of Rights makes a recommendation to the administration concerned. For example, they may ask them to resolve an individual's problem within a certain period of time. The administration must keep the Defender of Rights informed of the action taken on his recommendation.

If a professional has committed a fault or discrimination, the Defender of Rights may request disciplinary proceedings or a penalty. For example, in the case of a breach of professional ethics by a security professional.

The Defender of Rights can also make general recommendations (important issues) and propose to the authorities to amend the law.

The Defender of Rights cannot challenge a court decision, but he can submit his observations before all courts. It is independent and does not represent any of the parties.