In France, justice can be rendered either amicably without the intervention of a judge or through a civil trial in case of conflict. Indeed, any legal procedure follows a long and costly process with several steps. Moreover, depending on the nature of the lawsuit and its complexity, it can last from 6 months to 10 years. Follow below everything you need to know about a lawsuit in order to prepare yourself serenely.
In which Court do you have to go to trial?
Generally, as a defendant, the Court of law for your trial will be the one where you live. However, for certain types of disputes, you can go to the following courts:
- Court of the place where the service was performed or where the goods were delivered, for any dispute related to the provision of services or the purchase of goods
- Court of the last domicile of the deceased, in the case of succession
- Court of the place where the damage was suffered or of the domicile of the adversary, for the compensation of a loss
- The Court of the place where the real estate is concerned is located for any dispute relating to real estate.
What is the procedure to follow in a lawsuit?
The procedure of a lawsuit normally varies according to the amount of the dispute and the obligation to be represented or not by a lawyer.
Since January 1, 2020, according to the decree n° 2019-1333 of December 11, 2019, the Court can be seized either by summons or request.
Your legal claim can only be made by petition if the claim does not exceed €5,000. For all disputes of less than 5,000€ or for certain neighborhood disputes, according to articles R. 211-3-4 and R. 211-3-8 of the Code of Judicial Organization, the legal claim must be preceded by certain attempts. Indeed, a conciliation attempt led by a court conciliator, a mediation attempt, or a participative procedure attempt, according to article 750-1 of the Code of civil procedure, must precede your claim.
However, none of these attempts could take place in the following cases:
- In the event that one of the parties seeks the homologation of an agreement
- If one of the parties is seeking homologation of an agreement; – if there is an obligation to exercise a prior appeal to the author of the decision.
- Justification by a legitimate reason due to the absence of recourse to one of the methods of the amicable resolution mentioned in the first paragraph. That it is either to the manifest urgency, or to the circumstances which could make impossible any attempt, or to the unavailability of a justice conciliator in an excessive delay of the stakes of the litigation
- If the judge or the administrative authority must make a prior attempt at conciliation in the face of the application of a particular provision.
This is a document written at the request of the plaintiff and issued by a bailiff. The summons usually informs the other party that proceedings against him have been initiated in Court and that he is summoned to appear.
The “general course of the trial
The investigation phase
During this first stage, the two opposing parties must provide each other with all the necessary documents, including evidence, arguments, etc. The judge of the mise en status must supervise this stage by issuing an order of closure of the investigation at the end, with the date fixed for the hearing. In civil matters, this is also called the mise en état.
The debates stage
A lawyer must represent the opposing parties during the hearing. These lawyers will present their conclusions in writing only or accompanied by an oral development. In order to complete the debates, it is possible that the judge may call upon experts or request a report. However, he may also attempt to reconcile the parties.
The judgment stage
After the parties have been heard, the judgment can be issued immediately. However, if the judgment is deferred, the judge will give them a later date on which the judgment will be communicated to them. In spite of this, one of the opposing parties may contest the judgment. They can then ask for an appeal to the Court of Appeal for an appeal procedure.
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