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St Barth, French West Indies Law Firm


The Constitutional Council

The Constitutional Council can be asked to decide on conformity with the Constitution of the laws before their promulgation. The Court systematically verifies the constitutionality of organic laws and regulations of the parliamentary assemblies. It can also be called upon to determine the existence of a contradiction between the Constitution and a treaty that has not yet been ratified. If it is judged to be contradictory, the treaty can only be ratified after a review of the Constitution.

Case Law of Administrative Authorities

The administrative authorities are in charge of settling disputes between citizens and the Administration.

The first judgments are rendered by the administrative courts for disputes between the users and administrations of the State, regions, departments, communities or public enterprises. There are also specialized jurisdictions such as the Commission des recours des réfugiés, Commission d'aide sociale, Section disciplinaire des ordres professionnels.

If an appeal is lodged, the administrative courts reexamine the case if one of the parties is not satisfied with the first judgment.

In addition, the Audit Office as well as the Regional Audit Offices have jurisdiction to control the accounts of the State, national public establishments, public enterprises, social security agencies and optionally, private agencies that benefit from public funds. The Audit Office controls the regularity of the accounts of the State's accountants and, in management, the good use of public funds.

The State Council ("Conseil d'Etat") is the highest instance for administrative matters. Like the Court of Cassation with judicial matters, the State Council provides case law on a national level. It has a triple competence:

- in general, as a cassation court, it hears appeals of decisions rendered by administrative appeal courts as well as jurisdictional decisions rendered specialized administrative jurisdictions.

- as an appeal court, it hears appeals from decisions rendered by administrative tribunals relative to municipal and cantonal elections, prorogation of boundaries and legal appreciation.

- as a first and last instance court, it hears requests against decrees, ministerial regulatory acts, decisions taken by collegial bodies of national competence as well as regional or European electoral cases.

The State Council carries out itself a classification of its decisions which determines their importance. Thus are distinguished:

- decisions published in the Lebon Report that constitute decisions of major interest on new legal questions or that reveal a jurisprudential evolution;

- decisions published in the tables of the Lebon Report that contribute a jurisprudential complement in the matter of the disputed claims or of a procedure point or that apply an established principle in case law;

- decisions that are not published in the Lebon Report that do not innovate or that are constant with the case law.

Finally, the Court of jurisdictional issues settles disputes between judicial and administrative jurisdictions.

Case Law of judicial jurisdictions

The judicial branch settles disputes that arise between individuals and sanctions violations against people, property and society. The criminal jurisdiction tries persons suspected of a criminal offense (driving without a license, robbery, murder) whereas the civil jurisdiction settle disputes (rent, inheritance, etc.). Finally, some cases are finally reviewed by specialized courts (For example, probiviral council for a layoff).

The cases, depending on their nature, are taken to instance courts or first instance courts ("Tribunal de Grand Instance"), police courts("Tribunal de Police"), correctional courts ("Tribunal Correctionnel"), assize courts ("Cour d'Assise"), children's courts (Tribunal pour enfants"), commercial courts ("Tribunal de Commerce"), etc.

The appeal courts ("Cour d'Appel") can reexamine a case upon request of one or more persons that are not satisfied with the first judgment.

The Court of Cassation ("Cour de Cassation") does not retry a case but verifies that the laws were correctly interpreted by the courts and the appeal courts.


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Emmanuel Jacques Almosnino Practice Areas

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Corporate Structuring
International Taxation

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