Jean-Marie Coulon, Daniel Soulez Larivière

The Crisis of the French Legal System Publication date : September 1, 2002

The French legal system is said to be in a state of crisis. Judges have become increasingly powerful, yet the legal system is slow, congested, overburdened and hesitant. What is the state of the law today? What caused the present crisis? Is it the reflection of a deeper crisis in the French State? Could it be the symptom of a transformation that is pulling France out of its traditional bureaucratic centralism and making it discover the benefits of Law?
But is the “legal community” prepared for the new tasks that it has been assigned? Do judges have the necessary training to take on their new roles? Do lawyers? Can the age-old misunderstandings and rivalry between judges and lawyers be tolerated?
The legal system is made up of men and women, as well as of a series of procedures. Are these procedures well-adapted? Will the multiplication of civil liability suits block the system? Are such cases a legal deviation?
What is the current state of international law? Could international law exercise a positive effect on France’s legal system, as well as on Europe’s?
How should changes be implemented in the recourse to imprisonment, as well as to other forms of punishment?
This is an uncompromising analysis of the strengths and weaknesses, and the unwieldiness and capabilities of the French legal system.

Daniel Soulez Larivière is a lawyer on the Paris bar. He is the author of Les Juges dans la balance, Grand soir pour la justice, Dans l’engrenage de la justice and, more recently, of Notre justice.