Civil trial: how to act alone before the court?

Verified 07 April 2021 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

Cancelation of the conciliation obligation

Published on 17 November 2022

In a ruling on September 22, 2022, the Conseil d’État annulled article 750-1 of the code of civil procedure, which establishes the obligation of conciliation and mediation prior to litigation.

For some procedures where a lawyer is not required, you can defend yourself on your own, whether you're in a claim or a defense. You can file a petition or subpoena with the court. Before the hearing, you must exchange your applications and exhibits with your opponent. When the judgment is rendered, you can challenge it or enforce it.

You can appeal to the court of law or defend yourself alone before the court of law in all cases where the lawyer is not required.

Your procedure must involve a dispute between two individuals or between an individual and a professional (a trader or a craftsman, for example).

You can to bring proceedings before the court by application or by summons.

For any legal claim for a dispute not exceeding €5,000, you must have attempted a conciliation, mediation or a participatory procedure.

To determine the value of the dispute, you must take into account the total amount of your claims (refund of an amount, refund of a property, damages ... )

You may not be able to quantify the value of the dispute (for example, if you request cancelation of a contract). In this case, you need to hire a lawyer to initiate the procedure.


to obtain urgent interim measures (e.g. expertise), while awaiting the main trial, you can use a interim proceedings.

Enter by Query

Unless there is a legitimate reason, the request must be preceded an attempt at conciliation, mediation or a participatory procedure.

You can use a query template or write it on free paper.

Application for referral to the Court of Justice

You must attach to your request copies of your supporting documents (invoice, contract, quotation, proof of the attempt to reconcile ...).

You can request in your request that the proceedings shall take place without a hearing.

Consent to the conduct of the proceedings without a hearing - Oral proceedings before the court or the protection litigation judge

The query should include the following:

  • Full identity of the parties
  • Court seised
  • Purpose of the claim (damages, delivery of property, cancelation of a contract,...)
  • Grounds for the dispute
  • Parts List

You must encrypt your requests (€100 damages, for example).

The request must be dated and signed.


it is possible to request a sum corresponding to the costs you had to incur for the procedure (travel expenses, stamps,...).

Enter by assignment

You can go to court by having your opponent deliver a subpoena by a commissioner of justice (formerly bailiff and judicial auctioneer).

Your assignment must include mandatory information:

  • Appointment of the competent court
  • Place, day and time of the hearing (information to be obtained from the court)
  • Purpose of the claim (damages, delivery of property, cancelation of a contract...)
  • Full identity of the parties
  • Grounds for the dispute
  • Parts List
  • Amicable attempt to resolve the dispute in advance
  • How your opponent will appear before the court, i.e. if he must take a lawyer, within what time frame,...
  • Consequences if your opponent does not appear

You must encrypt your requests (€100 damages, for example).

The assignment is your conclusions, i.e. your requests and your arguments.


in your application, it is possible to claim an amount corresponding to the costs you had to incur for the procedure (travel expenses, stamps, etc.).

Assignment model without mandatory representation

You may request in your assignment that the The proceedings take place without a hearing.

The summons must be filed in court at least 15 days before the hearing date.

If the date of the hearing has been communicated by electronic means, the summons must be filed within two months of such communication.

Failure to comply with the time limits shall result in obsolescence of the assignment, that is, the assignment is null and you have to make a new one.

Date of hearing

If the court has been seised by application you will receive a summons from the court indicating the date, time and courtroom.

If the court has been seised by summons, the date, time and courtroom are indicated.

You can request by mail dismissal from your case to another date if you are unable to attend the hearing (e.g. due to medical reasons or a transport strike). On the day of the hearing, the judge decides whether or not to refer the case.

Preparation of the file

You can try to agree with your opponent even if the court is seized. The attempt at conciliation may take place at any time during the procedure.

During this proceeding, if you have not taken the initiative of the procedure, you can also make requests related to the dispute (request a payment deadline or an expertise...).

You build your case with everyone the evidence that you consider necessary (invoice, contract, mail, expertise ...) . You can also attach witness statements. A template is available online:

Model Witness Attestation

You must respect the adversarial principle: you need to communicate your exhibits, arguments and demands to your opponent. If your opponent takes a lawyer, you should send them to him.

The exhibits must also be sent to the court before the hearing or at the latest on the day of the hearing.


if the documents are communicated too late to the opponent, the judge may refuse to take them into account.

Proceedings without hearing

You may request, in writing, that the proceedings be conducted without a hearing. That way you don't have to go to court. Your file must be complete because you will not be able to provide explanations orally.

Consent to the conduct of the proceedings without a hearing - Oral proceedings before the court or the protection litigation judge

Proceedings may take place without a hearing only if both parties have consented.


this can be done at any time. However, the judge may order that the parties appear before him or her if he or she considers their presence necessary for the resolution of the dispute.

If the application is granted by the judge, you must set out your dispute, your claims and arguments in writing.

The audience role is posted at the courtroom door. This document, which is a list of the cases that will be called to the hearing, allows you to verify that your case is taking place in this room.

Presence of the parties

  • The parties may be present in person at the hearing, possibly assisted by a lawyer.
  • The parties may be exempted from hearing if they have so requested.
  • The parties may be absent from the hearing, but represented by counsel or by a third party in writing.

The party who wishes to be represented by another person at the hearing must give him or her a power. Authority is a written document that allows the designated person to appear at the hearing and speak on behalf of the absent party.

The party may draft a power of attorney by designating one of the following:

  • No one with whom she living as a couple
  • His father or mother
  • Her child
  • His brother or sister
  • His nephew or niece
  • A person attached to his or her personal service or company (for example, a company lawyer or a domestic worker)

The nominated representative must be an adult. He must appear at the hearing with authority and identification.

You can use the following template:

Model of power of representation in legal proceedings

Request for referral

A party may apply to the judge for a return to have the matter dealt with at a future hearing.

The party must justify the reason for his request for referral (too short a time to prepare his defense, application for legal aid in the course of processing ...).

The judge can accept this request if he considers the reason to be legitimate (serious and justified). In this case, the judge sets the date for the next hearing. He or she may also refuse the application: in this case, the case is examined.

In the event of a referral, a party may ask the judge to be excused from attending the next hearing.

Conduct of the hearing

The cases are called by the judge in turn.

When your case is called, you must show your presence.

The procedure shall be oral.

The judge gives the floor, first to the plaintiff, that is to say to the one who brought the case before the court. He must set out his requests and arguments, which are noted by a clerk.

The judge then gives the floor to his opponent who sets out his own demands and arguments.

The judge may seek clarification from either party.

If you wish to explain further, you may ask the judge to take the floor again.

Once the parties have spoken, the judge closes the proceedings. No further arguments or requests can be taken into account except with the authorization of the judge at the hearing.

The judge shall give the date of deliberate that is, the date on which the judgment is rendered.

On the day of deliberation, the judgment shall be made available at the Registry that is, you can consult it in court with an identity document.

Please note

the decision may be given orally at a future hearing. In that case, the judge shall specify it and indicate the date.

The judge may decide to issue the judgment on a date other than that originally provided for. A notice shall indicate to the parties the new date and the reasons for the postponement.


The judgment shall state the following information:

  • Jurisdiction that gave it back
  • Names of judges and registrar
  • Date of delivery
  • Surname, forenames or name of the parties and of their domicile or registered office
  • Name of counsel or any person who represented or assisted the parties

The judgment states:

  • Dispute
  • Requests and arguments of each party
  • Discussion of requests and arguments
  • Reasons for decision and reasoning of the judge
  • Device


if you find a material error (e.g. wrong name, wrong date ...) you can ask the judge for a correction by request. Similarly, if the judge has not responded to a request (motion for failure to adjudicate).


Once the decision has been rendered, it must be brought to the attention of the parties.

The decision may be notified and your opponent by the graft by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt.

If not, the decision must be served by a commissioner of justice (formerly bailiff and judicial auctioneer) by the party who has an interest in having her executed (usually the party who won the trial).


in case of doubt, the court's letter accompanying the judgment shall indicate how the decision is to be brought to the notice of the parties.

Service shall enable the time limit for appeal against the decision to be set aside.


the time limit for appeal is calculated from the date of delivery of the registered letter or the date of delivery of service to the party by the Commissioner of Justice.


The remedy depends on the classification of the judgment in the device. The judgment shall be delivered in first spring or first and last resort.

The call is possible when the decision is rendered in first spring.

If the decision is rendered in first and last resort, the only remedy is the appeal in cassation.

Whether the judgment has been given default that is, in your absence, when you did not know the date of the hearing, you can opposition.


the type of appeal you can make is indicated in the service of the commissioner of justice or in the notification of the registry.

Enforcement of the decision

The the decision of the judge shall be enforceable immediately, even in the event of an appeal, unless the law or the judge decides otherwise.

If you have won your case in court, you can ask your opponent to pay the sums and fulfill the obligations to which he has been sentenced.

Execution can be carried out amicably by contacting your opponent or his lawyer.

If a settlement fails, you can call on a Commissioner of Justice who will carry out enforcement of the decision (e.g. seizures of money or property).

The Commissioner of Justice may ask his client for an advance before the acts are carried out.

The person sentenced to costs, must assume the costs of the procedure.


the court order may be enforced for a period of 10 years. All implementing acts by a Commissioner of Justice (e.g. partial seizure) start a new 10-year period.

In order to be able to execute the decision, a simple certified copy is not sufficient. You have to have an enforceable copy, and a form is added that allows the commissioner of justice to enforce the decision.


you can request an enforceable copy to the court that made the decision.

In the event of difficulties in enforcing the judgment, either party may refer the matter to the enforcement judge. He must be summoned.

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