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Challenging a court decision: to the Court of Cassation

Verified 01 janvier 2020 - Directorate of Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister), Ministry of Justice

You can appeal to the Court of Cassation by way of an appeal in cassation. It is a remedy to challenge a court decision that you consider to be against the law. This is the last possible remedy in a court case. The Cour de cassation is located in Paris.

For a civil case

Persons concerned

The parties to the proceedings may appeal to the Court of Cassation, whether you or your opponent.

The Attorney-General of the Court of Cassation may also apply to the Court of Cassation on his own initiative, if he considers that a court decision is contrary to the law.

Decisions

The contested decision must be a decision taken by a judge, and for which:

  • you already appeal, but the decision on appeal is not acceptable to you,
  • or appeal is impossible, in particular because the dispute is below€5,000,
  • or you already opposition (in the case of a default judgment), but the decision made following the opposition does not suit you.

  FYI : the appeal in cassation is suspensive divorce and nationality. The contested decision cannot then be run.. In other cases, the decision must be enforced without waiting for the cassation proceedings to be completed.

In an appeal for cassation, the facts will not be examined. For example, the Court of Cassation will not try to find out whether it was your neighbor's dog that bit you.

The Court will be based solely on questions of law. We're talking about decision on form..

You may bring one or more of these grounds before the Court:

  • Violation of the law, including international treaties (misapplication or misinterpretation), For example, if you feel that the judgment infringes your right to privacy
  • Violation of procedure, for example, if you think that assignment that was delivered to you was poorly written
  • Lack of legal basis, if you feel that the court's decision does not cite the sections of the law that justify its decision or does not sufficiently explain how it applied the law
  • Lack of reasons for decision, if you consider that the court has not clearly indicated on what facts it bases its decision (evidence, testimony...)
  • Contradiction between 2 judgements (disagreement). For example, if a 1to judgment has held that you owe such sum to your owner and thatsecond found the lease illegal. There may also be a conflict between a civil judgment and a criminal judgment. For example, if a 1to civil judgment found that you owed such a sum to an overturned pedestrian and that asecond Convicted the pedestrian for forging a medical certificate. The appeal is then directed against the 2 decisions even if the 1mother has already been appealed against in cassation.

In an appeal, you only contest the decision concerning you and not a law. The challenge to the law itself is still possible through a priority issue of constitutionality (QPC)..

The procedure itself is free.

However, you must pay your lawyer fees. If you can't afford it, you can ask legal aid..

If you win, the Court can ask your opponent to refund your costs.

Filing of the appeal declaration

To initiate the procedure, you must file a statement of appeal. It must be dated and signed.

It must contain the following information:

  • Your surname, given names and home
  • Contact information for your opponent
  • Decision under appeal, specifying the contested element(s)
  • Contact information for your lawyer

It is your lawyer, who must be a lawyer at the Court of Cassation and at the Council of State, who will file your statement himself.

It must be delivered with request for a notice of receipt to the Registry of the Court of Cassation in Paris.

The filing of the declaration must be made within 2 months ::

  • From the day the decision was made to you notified by the court registry which issued the contested decision (cases where the presence of a lawyer is not compulsory)
  • From the day the decision was made to you served (cases where representation by a lawyer is compulsory)
  • From end of opposition period for judgments and judgments rendered in absentia (in the absence of at least one party).

This period shall be increased by 1 month for persons residing overseas, when the court which issued the contested decision has its seat in metropolitan France. Similarly, where the competent court has its seat overseas, the period shall be increased by 1 month for persons residing in metropolitan France.

For persons residing abroad, this period shall be increased by 2 months.

  Please note : there is no maximum period of time when the ground of cassation invoked is a contradiction of judgments, that is, an opposition between two court decisions rendered on the same subject-matter.

Submission

As soon as the statement is registered by the Registry, your lawyer will have 4 months to file with the Court of Cassation a written document (a memory) detailing your arguments (means).

In certain cases, the President of the Court of Cassation may reduce this period, either on his own initiative or at the request of one of the parties. For example, in divorce cases, the time limit is often set at 3 months.

Hearing before the Court

The Court of Cassation, based in Paris, examined the case in public.

Your case will usually be examined by a specialized chamber. The most complex cases are decided by the plenary.

Your lawyer can speak to complete your brief. You may be present, but you will not have the right to speak.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the Chair will indicate when the decision will be made.

Effects of the decision

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If the Court finds you right

The Court annuls (sets aside) the contested decision. It may then:

  • partially break (partial break): some elements are canceled, others are maintained. For example, it can maintain the damages your bricklayer must pay you, but cancel the compulsory resumption of work;
  • or break it completely (total break): all elements of the decision are then rescinded.

Then, whether there is a partial or total cassation, the Court may decide:

  • refer you to a court of the same type as the one that issued the decision that was annulled. In such cases, the court shall designate in its judgment the new court which it designates to retry the case on the merits, and only on the points annulled. That's the majority of cases. For example, if you have appealed a decision of the Court of Appeal of Amiens, the case may be retried by the Court of Appeal of Douai. The case may also be retried by the same court but with different judges;
  • or end the case. The Court of Cassation considers that it was able to apply the law itself and settle the dispute between the parties. We're talking about non-discharge..

If the Court finds you wrong

Your appeal is dismissed. The contested decision is considered final and it is the decision which must be implemented in its entirety.

There is, however, the rare and extraordinary path of review..

For a criminal case

Persons concerned

May appeal in cassation:

  • the attorney general of the court of appeal,
  • the person sentenced or indicted,
  • or the civil party.

  Please note : the Attorney General of the Court of Cassation may also refer the matter to the Court of Cassation if he considers that a court decision is contrary to the law.

Decisions

These are all decisions:

  • a court of first and last resort,
  • or a Court of Appeal,
  • or an examining magistrate's chamber (which examines on appeal the decisions of the examining magistrate or the judge of liberty and detention).

  FYI : the appeal in cassation is suspensive: the penalty of imprisonment or a fine is not immediately carried out. However, the sentenced person may be placed in remand or under house arrest..

In an appeal for cassation, the facts will not be examined. For example, the Court of Cassation will not look for if you were actually drunk during the police check.

The Court will be based solely on questions of law. We're talking about decision on form..

For example, you can argue as grounds before the Court:

  • Violation of the law, including international treaties (false application or interpretation), For example, if you believe that the judgment infringes your freedom of expression,
  • Violation of procedure, for example, if you think that direct quote that was delivered to you was poorly written,
  • Lack of legal basisif you feel that the court's decision does not cite the sections of the law that justify its decision or does not sufficiently explain how it applied the law,
  • Lack of reasons for decision, if you consider that the court has not clearly indicated on what facts it bases its decision (evidence, testimony...) or that it contradicts itself.

In an appeal, you only contest the decision concerning you and not a law. The challenge to the law itself is still possible through a priority issue of constitutionality (QPC)..

The procedure itself is free of charge, but each person sentenced by the Court of Cassation must pay a fixed right of procedure to €211..

In addition, you will also have to pay your lawyer's fees. In case of difficulties you have the possibility to ask legal aid..

  Warning : the Court may even ask you to pay the lawyer's fees of the other party (civil party or convicted person) if your appeal is rejected.

Filing of the appeal declaration

The statement of appeal must be dated and signed.

It must contain the following information:

  • Your surname, given names and home
  • Contact details of other party (civil party or convicted person)
  • Decision under appeal, specifying the contested element(s)
  • Contact details of your lawyer, if you have one.

The declaration must be delivered to the court registry which issued the contested decision. The procedure must be carried out on the spot by you, by a lawyer registered at the bar of the court which has ruled or by a authority special.

For example, if you wish to challenge a decision of the Court of Appeal of Lyon, you must file your application in Lyon.

Who shall I contact

The deposit must be made in the 5 days from:

  • the decision under appeal, if the decision was taken after adversarial debate,
  • or meaning of the contested decision, where the applicant for the appeal was not present or represented by a lawyer at the hearing of the decision, was delivered.

  Warning : the deadline is 3 days for press offenses (insult, defamation...).

Lawyer

Not all lawyers are entitled to represent you during the phase of the proceedings following the filing of the appeal.

Only some lawyers on a list have this privilege. These are lawyers at the Council of State and the Court of Cassation still called lawyers at Councils..

Who shall I contact

Submission

You will then need to submit a written document detailing your legal arguments (means) against the contested decision. This document is called memory, may be filed by counsel or by yourself (or an agent).

The brief was prepared by your lawyer

It must be filed at the Registry of the Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation within a period that varies according to the case. It is necessary to inquire with the Court Registry.

The brief was written by you

You will have to file on the spot your brief at the registry of the court which rendered the contested decision:

  • at the same time as filing your appeal,
  • within 10 days.
Who shall I contact

After this period, if you are the applicant who has been convicted of a criminal offense, you can file the brief directly with the court of cassation. On the other hand, the other parties must have a lawyer at the Court of Cassation.

In all cases, the brief must be copied in as many copies as there are parties (convicted persons, indictees, civil parties).

  FYI : if you have a lawyer, they can help you with your brief.

Hearing before the Court of Cassation

The Court of Cassation, located in Paris, examined the case in public.

Your case must be examined by a specialized chamber, the criminal chamber. The most important cases are decided by the plenary.

The procedure varies depending on whether you are represented by a counsel..

You are represented by a lawyer

You may be present, but you will not have the right to speak.

Your lawyer may speak to complete your written brief.

The Advocate General, representing the Public Prosecutor's Office, will then indicate whether he or she is referring to his or her written opinion or wishes to make oral observations. If he makes oral observations, your lawyer can reply orally.

The Chair will finally close the discussion and indicate when the decision will be made.

You are not represented by a lawyer

You may be present at the hearing, but you will not have the right to speak. The person representing you will not be able to go to court.

The Advocate General, representing the Public Prosecutor's Office, will then indicate whether he or she is referring to his or her written opinion or wishes to make oral observations. If he makes oral observations, you will not be able to reply orally, but you will be able to reply in a written submission to the Speaker of the House after the hearing.

After the intervention of the Advocate General, the President will close the proceedings and indicate when the decision will be made.

  Please note : if the Court receives an application to end a pre-trial detention, it must decide within 3 months of the filing of the declaration. If this period is not respected, the person is released automatically.

Effects of the decision

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If the Court finds you right

The Court then annuls the contested decision. It may then:

  • break it partially: some elements are canceled, others are maintained. For example, if the Court partially quashes a decision sentencing you for speeding and drunk driving. It may retain the penalty for intoxication but cancel the penalty for speeding;
  • break it completely: all elements of the decision are then rescinded.

Then, whether there is a partial or total cassation, the Court may decide:

  • To refer you to a court of the same type as the one that issued the decision that was annulled. In such cases, the court shall designate in its judgment the new court which it designates to retry the case on the merits, and only on the points annulled. For example, if you have appealed a decision of the Court of Appeal of Amiens, the case may be retried by the Court of Appeal of Douai;
  • or end the case. The Court of Cassation considers that it was able to apply the law itself and that there is no need to retry the case on the merits. We're talking about non-discharge..

If the Court finds you wrong

Your appeal is dismissed. The contested decision is considered final and it is the decision which must be enforced.

There is, however, the rare and extraordinary path of review..