The justice system
France’s judicial authorities, which safeguard individual freedom (Article 66 of the Constitution), are divided into distinct entities between the legal jurisdictions responsible for settling disputes between individuals, and the administrative jurisdictions for disputes between citizens and the public authorities.
Judicial order includes two types of jurisdictions.
Ordinary jurisdictions (tribunal de grande instance/regional court) and specialized jurisdictions (tribunal d’instance/regional court, tribunal de commerce/commercial court, tribunal des affaires de sécurité sociale/social security affairs court and the Conseil des prud'hommes/employment tribunal, which settles disputes between employees and employers).
These jurisdictions deal with three levels of offences:
- minor offences judged by the local criminal court (tribunal de police);
- offences judged by the criminal court (tribunal correctionnel);
- crimes judged by the assize court (cour d’assises).
There is also a specific jurisdiction that deals with both civil and criminal matters: the children’s court.
The Court of Cassation, the highest judicial body, is responsible for examining appeals submitted against judgments handed down by the courts of appeal.
At the top of the administrative jurisdictions is the Conseil d’État, which is the court of last resort to judge the legality of administrative acts. It is also consulted for opinion by the Government concerning bills and certain draft decrees.
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