It all started with a spat. In mid-May, the day after the first confinement imposed in the name of the health crisis, Lyon lawyer Sofia Soula-Michal went to the industrial tribunal to register a request and notify a hearing date for a client. She is opposed by the clerk of the court. The two women may have known each other for more than ten years, but the tone rises quickly, until the lawyer specializing in labor law and the clerk come to realize that they are both victims of the same situation. : the poverty of justice. The clerk does not know what to do with the piles of files accumulated during the eight weeks of closure of the industrial tribunal.
“Clerks, magistrates, lawyers, bailiffs, we are all professionals suffering because of the lack of means of justice, and behind us, the first victims are the litigants”, says Me Soula-Michal, who in July created the Association of Defenders of Justice. With a hundred members from these professions, even before launching a recruitment campaign, the association sued the State for “serious misconduct” Tuesday, November 17 before the judicial tribunal of Lyon.
This summons refers to article 141-1 of the code of judicial organization, according to which “The State is required to repair the damage caused by the faulty functioning of the public service of justice. Unless there are special provisions, this liability is only engaged by gross negligence or by denial of justice ”. The Lyon association thus intends to demonstrate that the chronic weakness of the justice budget in France, in particular in comparison with other European countries, and the deterioration in the time limits for judgments observed in all of the courts in Lyon, constitute a ” miscarriage of justice “.
Business scheduled for 2022
Paradoxically, this legal procedure is launched when the 2021 draft budget submitted by the government to Parliament shows the highest annual increase (8%) for the Ministry of Justice for twenty-five years. “The effort exists, it is commendable”, recognizes Me Soula-Michal. But, she objects, the increase in the number of staff budgeted for is “Extremely limited, not to say ridiculous, as regards magistrates (50 posts) and clerks (130)”. “At this rate, it will take France more than a century to catch up with its European counterparts”, calculates the lawyer. The latest study by the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice, published on October 20, underlines that France spent € 69.50 per capita on its justice system in 2018, when the average of the eleven comparable European states is 84.13 euros.
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