Reform of the judiciary: the critical opinion of the profession
Posted Apr 28, 2023, 7:30 AM This is one of the components of the action…
Posted Apr 28, 2023, 7:30 AM
This is one of the components of the action plan resulting from the Estates General of Justice that the Keeper of the Seals, Eric Dupond-Moretti, presented in January. The judiciary will see its methods of recruitment, promotion and evaluation evolve. A statutory reform that the ministry presents as “one of the most important since 1958” and which will be carried by an organic law.
The purpose is threefold: it is to open up the judiciary to the outside world, to modernize the institution and to protect and make judges more accountable.
The subject is therefore sensitive for the profession. The Superior Council of the Judiciary (CSM), regrets all the more to have been seized on the preliminary draft law “while the text was already under examination before the Council of State”. In a press release, the CSM, which has already had several points of disagreement with the ministry, explains “not having been able to carry out a more complete and early consultation with the Chancellery”.
So much for the form. On the merits, the body chaired by François Molins and Christophe Soulard, which is responsible for the appointment of judges and their discipline, also expresses many reservations.
The organic text provides for the simplification of access routes to the judiciary. How ? By doing away with recruitment based on titles, the paths of direct integration into the first two grades, additional competitions.
It is also planned to discharge the promotion commission, composed exclusively of magistrates, of its attributions in terms of recruitment and to entrust the entirety of this mission to a jury, while 1,500 new magistrates must take office by 2027.
Another novelty: the creation of a professional competition leading to accelerated training and intended for professionals according to their profile and experience.
While approving the objectives, the CSM warns about the “maintenance of the quality of the magistrates recruited” and considers that “a training course lasting eighteen months would be more suited to the requirement of quality of justice, which requires a deepening of both the techniques specific to the exercise of the functions and the ethical aspects”.
He mentions in particular the case of ***istant lawyers, for whom he considers that the length of experience required to apply for the professional competition is too short.
For the CSM, recruitment through the student competition must remain in the majority. It recommends setting a quota of magistrates recruited professionally in relation to magistrates who have p***ed the competitive examination.
Creation of a third grade
The opinion is equally severe regarding the reform of the structure of the judiciary, in other words the provisions relating to careers.
The Chancellery wants to allow magistrates to access “more easily and earlier” positions in the Court of Appeal while allowing returns within the framework of posts of limited duration in the first instance. To this end, the text provides for the creation of a third contingent grade, which “will include management jobs (intermediate, heads of jurisdiction) but also purely judicial”.
The complete dissociation of rank and employment at this level worries magistrates. The CSM would like to have its say on these movements.
On the “accountability” aspect, with the evaluation of the heads of courts and tribunals on their administrative and management skills, the CSM is also critical. He deplores the fact that “it is up to the regulatory power to define such essential points as the composition of the college or the objectives of the evaluation”.