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Here are the main measures of the Smith-Moretti plan for justice

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  • > Increase in financial means

  • In the spring, a planning and orientation bill will be tabled to finance the hiring of 10,000 justice officials, including 1,500 magistrates and 1,500 court clerks, by 2027. In addition, the justice budget will increase from 9.6 to “nearly 11 billion euros” by 2027, i.e. a cumulative increase of 7.4 billion euros over Macron’s second five-year term.

  • > Reduce delays in civil justice

  • A “friendly settlement hearing” is created and will allow a judge to play the role of “conciliator” by bringing the parties together at the very beginning of the procedure to try to find an agreement, which will then have to be approved. This mission may be entrusted to “temporary judges” or “honorary” judges, now retired.

    A “caesura” mechanism is also created and will allow the civil judge to settle the crux of a dispute, for example a question of responsibility in an accident, and then let the parties agree on any questions of compensation.

  • > Overhaul the criminal procedure

  • The Minister of Justice announced the launch of the rewriting, with “constant law”, of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CPP) with a “scientific committee” of experts and under the supervision of a group of parliamentarians representing all sides policies. To carry out this reform, the government intends to legislate by ordinance.

    In addition, the judicial “investigation frameworks” are simplified in accordance with “the will” of the police and gendarmes. The Minister did not provide further details on this measure. Among the other announcements: the authorization, in criminal matters, of night searches already permitted in the case of terrorism or organized crime and the granting of new rights to persons placed, in the context of judicial investigations, under the intermediate status of assisted witness so that it is “more used” by the investigating judges.

  • > Improve the working conditions of judges

  • A tool making it possible to assess “the workload of magistrates” and “to more finely objectify the needs” in each court has been put in place on an experimental basis.

    Also, each judge will have a “real team” composed in particular of “assistant lawyers” recruited under the status of contract workers, in order to break “their isolation”.

  • > Modernize governance

  • Éric Dupond-Moretti wants to give more prerogatives to the heads of jurisdiction in real estate, budgetary and human resources matters in order to rationalize the feedback to the central administrations. In addition, the digital transformation plan aims to achieve, by 2027, the objective of “zero paper” for the ministry and in particular the civil and criminal courts.

    Among the other measures: the widening of recruitment routes in the judiciary to “legal professions” and the adaptation of the training provided at the National School of the Judiciary to management issues and teamwork; the presentation, at a date yet to be determined, of a draft organic law on the responsibility of magistrates; the implementation of a smartphone application which will make it possible in 2024 to make a claim for compensation before the criminal court or for legal aid.

  • > Situation in prisons

  • The minister wants to assess the effectiveness of the reform of the “penalty block”, set up by the former Minister of Justice Nicole Belloubet, which notably prohibits prison sentences of less than one month. In addition, the wearing of body cameras for prison guards is widespread.

  • > Rethinking social and economic justice

  • An experiment has been set up to transform the commercial courts into “economic business courts”, to which farmers and certain liberal professions could turn. Finally, decision-making support, training and compensation for industrial tribunal advisers are reinforced.

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