During the general assembly of the Conference of Bar Presidents which was held this Friday, January 21 in Paris, the Keeper of the Seals Eric Dupond-Moretti gave several assurances to lawyers concerning sensitive files.
The presidential election is a bit of a political Christmas: gifts are de rigueur. During the statutory general assembly of the Conférence des Bâtonniers which began this Friday in Paris, the lawyers received two gifts from their Keeper of the Seals.
The first is the promise that an imminent decree will resolve the difficulty raised by the case law of the criminal chamber of the Court of Cassation. A judgment dated December 15, 2021 ruled that“No conventional or legal provision obliges the investigating judge to issue a permit to communicate to the collaborators or partners of a chosen lawyer, since they have not been personally designated by the person concerned in the formalities provided for by article 115 of the code of criminal procedure.. Clearly, a lawyer’s collaborator cannot replace his boss in the pleadings.
The CNB requests the removal of the limitation to 4,080 characters of the declaration of appeal via the RPVJ | National Bar Council https://t.co/fC1MgQQgsl
— Stéphane_NESA (@NesaSte) January 20, 2022
The second gift is of the same order. It is a question of returning to the harmful consequences of another case law of the Court of Cassation, in civil matters this time. The judgment of January 13, 2021 censured the practice of lawyers consisting, due to the 4,080 character limit on the Virtual Private Justice Network (RPVJ), of appending to the statement of appeal a document listing the heads of judgment challenged . The Court considered that this appendix is only valid if the list of heads of judgment challenged exceeds the number of characters allowed. The question will give rise to work at the Chancellery, assured Eric Dupond-Moretti.
These assurances have somewhat appeased the anger of a profession which tends to consider that it has probably never been so mistreated by its ministry even though one of its own holds the post of Keeper of the Seals. Between the reform relating to professional secrecy in the Confidence bill, progress for some, regression according to others, the various procedural constraints (date summons, summary of conclusions), the questioning of the foundations, the profession considers that it has many reasons to complain about his minister. Which, moreover, had not hesitated to call them “brawlers” a few months ago, when they had protested against the criminal courts.
For the rest, the will of the Keeper of the Seals to boast of his record came up against the field experience of the professionals present in the room on several subjects.
So he said he was proud to have installed wifi in all the palaces. The statement immediately sparked a hubbub of protest, many presidents of the bar shouted that their court was not the beneficiary of this modernity. The Minister took note and asked them to report their situation to him, which some immediately did on Twitter.
As requested today during the GA of the @Conf_Presidents I inform you that the TJ of #DOUAI does not currently have WIFI in its enclosure. We thank you for doing the necessary as promised 😉@LawyersDouai @PTJDouai @LawyerDelahay pic.twitter.com/G90J0Xkolz
— Eglantine Campbell (@EglantineCpbll) January 21, 2022
The room also buzzed when the Keeper of the Seals addressed the issue of discipline reform in the Trust in Justice Act. “I wanted a magistrate to come and help the lawyers on discipline” he was starting to say when shouts rang out from the room “there are no victims in a disciplinary trial”, Eric Dupond-Moretti went on to explain that it was important for the image of ethics that a magistrate be present. In his speech, delivered just before that of the minister, the president of the Conference, Bruno Blanquer had indicated that the profession wished that at least an effective filter be established and that ” complaints that are inadmissible, manifestly unfounded or which are not accompanied by the details enabling their merits to be assessed”. “There will be a filtering procedure to rule out manifestly abusive and ill-founded”assured the Minister in return.
Another sign of dissension between the lawyers and their minister, the summons to date. Eric Dupond-Moretti welcomed the fact that lawyers now have a hearing date as soon as the application is submitted. They see it above all as unnecessary complexity. Similarly, if the minister prides himself on having increased the amount of the legal aid budget by 28%, the lawyers do not seem to consider that they are better compensated. Nor do they notice in practice the reduction in the stocks of civil cases announced by the minister following the report of the general inspectorate on this subject. The fact that he ensures that the phenomenon is essentially due to causes other than the means (only 30% of stocks in the first instance would be linked to the means and 10% on appeal) is not likely to reassure them about the intentions of the Chancellery in terms of increasing the budget.
“These are the consequences of 20 years of neglect that must be repaired”
One important thing came out of these exchanges, the minister no longer speaks of repaired justice. “Of course a particular effort must be devoted in the years to come to the justice budget, he even admitted. But he also defended his record “the increase in the budget that it has experienced places justice at the forefront of sovereign ministries, ahead of the armies and the interior; I hear your remarks on the fact that it would not be enough, but this government has inherited 20 years of abandonment, human, political, budgetary and it is the consequences of the carelessness of the last decades that must be repaired, which we we started doing. He mentioned the hiring of 698 magistrates (against only + 27 under Hollande, and – 142 under Sarkozy, the negative figure being explained by the absence of replacement of retirements) 850 clerks and 2000 contract workers. As for 2022, it will be a historic year for the National School of the Judiciary (ENM) which will experience the greatest promotion since its creation.
Question of credits, for Bruno Blanquer who returned at length to the call for 3000 and recalled the full support of lawyers for magistrates “it is a doubling of the judicial justice budget that would be needed over 5 years with a doubling of the workforce, to finally place our country in the European average”. The President of the Conference has an idea so that campaign promises do not remain a dead letter. “we ask that the candidates for the presidency of the Republic commit to a quantified objective of increasing the budget of judicial justice so that, because these objectives will have been announced before the election, Bercy can only submit to the Universal suffrage “. A statement that earned him loud applause.
The immense qualities and tiny flaws of lawyers
Before concluding his remarks, the Minister called on the lawyers to participate in the Estates General “The goal is to simplify, I am aware that civil procedure is somewhat cumbersome and it is now or never to obtain clearer and more fluid rules for faster justice”. Finally, if last year he had refrained from any reference to his former profession, to the point of giving an unpleasant feeling of denial, this time he played the card of complicity with his former colleagues. He declared his ” unwavering attachment to this profession” that he has “so much loved to exercise”with “its immense qualities and its very small faults”before concluding “I have confidence in her for the future, you can count on me to always defend this profession”. Did the lawyers believe him? This is an other story. In any case, the minister has come out rather well of the traditionally risky exercise that constitutes a speech before this assembly of presidents who are always quick to react.