Digitisation of legal procedures

AuthorMme Martine de Boisdeffere
PositionConseillère d'Etat, Présidente de la Section du rapport et des études
Pages11-28
IRISH JUDICIAL STUDIES JOURNAL
[2018] Irish Judicial Studies Journal Vol 2(1) 11
DIGITISATION OF LEGAL PROCEDURES
Mme Martine de Boisdeffere
Conseillère d’Etat, Présidente de la Section du rapport et des études
Introduction
What cannot be eschew'd must be embraced.
1
The words of Page in The Merry Wives of
Windsor
2
could also be applied to the digital revolution. Trying to stop this
unavoidable phenomenon would be a futile exercise. On the contrary, we must
accept it, since it deeply changes the way we live.
3
The digital revolution has had
an impact on every domain, including the provision of legal services.
4
France has
introduced a number of online platforms providing various public services,
5
and
is becoming a digital republic, named as such in light of a recent law adopted a
few months ago.
6
In 2014, the United Nations found that France was the most
advanced nation in Europe, and 4th worldwide when it comes to e-government.
7
In 2016, the French administration website, service-public.fr
8
received 272 million
visits
9
and 4.4 million administrative requests were completed online.
10
A lot for a
country with a population of just under 67 million.
11
France also performs equally well in Europe when it comes to the usage of new
technologies within its legal system.
12
This cannot ignored in the context of the
digital age; digital accessibility is important for the quality of legal systems.
13
The
process of digitisation of legal procedures is being undergone in France, and I
1
Ce qui ne peut être évité, il le faut embrasser.
2
William Shakespeare, The Merry wives of Windsor (1600), act IV, scene V.
3
Conseil d’Etat, Le numérique et les droits fondamentaux, La Documentation française, Paris, 2014, p. 35.
4
The ways in which legal services can be provided have increased. See J.-M. Sauvé, Quel avenir pour les professions du droit
en France?, speech before the assemblée générale of the Conseil supérieur du notariat on 17 February 2016 ; see also Vers
une ubérisation du droit?, Le Monde, 19 June 2015, available at http://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2015/06/19/vers-une-
uberisation-du-droit_4658065_3232.html
5
http://www.gouvernement.fr/action/le-numerique-instrument-de-la-transformation-de-l-etat
6
La loi n° 2016-1321 du 7 octobre 2016 pour une République numérique.
7
United Nations e-government survey, 25 June 2014, available at http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/publications/e-
government-survey-2014.html
8
Created in October 2000, the site provides access to administrative information for individuals, companies and associations.
9
These statistics were provided in the Rapport d’activité de la Direction de l’information légale et administrative, 2016,
available at http://www.dila.premier-ministre.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/dila-_ra_2016-web.pdf
10
Since late 2016, the plateforme de services en ligne (PSL) has allowed individuals to register to vote in the general and
presidential elections which were held in 2017. It also allows the online creation of an association and the declaration of the
existence of a facility which may have an impact on the protection of the environment (installation classée pour la protection de
l'environnement).
11
66,991,000 as of 1 January 2017. See https://www.insee.fr/fr/statistiques/2554860
12
We learn this from the EU Justice Scoreboard published by the European Commission, which evaluated the justice systems
of European Union countries, considering the following 3 elements: efficiency, quality and independence. In France, 95% of
lawyers correspond by email, and 50% send legal documents by email. See Bulletin quotidien, 11 April 2017, n° 011088, p. 10.
13
W. Derksen, The new digital procedure in civil and administrative law cases, Judicial Reform in the Netherlands, Netherlands
Council for the Judiciary, 2014, p. 49, discusses the notion of digital accessibility. The article is available online at:
https://www.rechtspraak.nl/SiteCollectionDocuments/judicial-refrom-in-the-Netherlands-2014.pdf
IRISH JUDICIAL STUDIES JOURNAL
[2018] Irish Judicial Studies Journal Vol 2(1) 12
will begin by describing this before considering the issues involved and the
various perspectives. I will do this from my own perspective, French
administrative justice,
14
while also allowing myself to make comparisons with the
judicial systems and other legal systems where these appear relevant.
The French administrative system is already largely paperless, when it concerns
interactions between the judge and the litigant, and the internal work of the court
Relationship between the judge and the litigant
From one involving choice to one involving obligations.
Making an application by electronic means
This is made possible thanks to an application called Télérecours which has been
gradually rolled out but is not yet universally available.
a) Progressive rolling out
According to the division of competences under the constitution as between the
parliament and government,
15
legal procedure is governed by regulation and not
by legislation, unlike criminal matters or fundamental rules and principles.
16
The decree of 10 March 2005
17
provides that all correspondence between the
court and the parties, beginning with the submission of the application, be
carried out via an online application. A restricted experimental period began by
limiting correspondence to exchanges between the lawyer or the administration,
in tax disputes before the Conseil d'Etat.
18
The remit of the law was then
widened to include the administrative court and administrative court of appeal in
Paris in 2008,
19
and then all administrative courts and administrative courts of
appeal in the Paris region from 2009.
20
In 2009, military disputes before the
Conseil d'État were also included.
21
This experimental phase took place from
2005 to 2012.
22
14
The Conseil d’Etat, the administrative courts of appeal and the administrative courts. However, there are also specialist
administrative courts, who are not governed by the code of administrative justice although their decisions are supervised by
the Conseil d’Etat.
15
Articles 34 and 37 of the French Constitution of 4 October 1958.
16
Conseil constitutionnel, decision of 13 April 2012, Stéphane C. et autres, n°2012-231/234 QPC §12.
17
Décret n° 2005-222 du 10 mars 2005 relatif à l'expérimentation de l'introduction et de la communication des requêtes et
mémoires et de la notification des décisions par voie électronique.
18
Arrêté du 27 mai 2005 relatif à l'e xpérimentation de l'introduction et de la communication des requêtes et mémoires et de la
notification des décisions par voie électronique devant le Conseil d'Etat (published in the Journal officiel de la République
française, 31 May 2005).
19
Arrêté du 11 mai 2007 relatif à l'e xpérimentation de l'introduction et de la communication des requêtes et mémoires et de la
notification des décisions par voie électronique devant le tribunal administratif de Paris et la cour administrative d'appel de
Paris (published in the Journal officiel de la République française, 16 May 2007).
20
Namely the administrative courts in Melun, Montreuil, Paris and Versailles and the administrative courts of appeal in Paris
and Versailles.
21
Arrêté du 3 février 2009, relatif à l'extension de l'expérimentation de l'introduction et de la communication des requêtes et
mémoires et de la notification des décisions par voie électronique devant le Conseil d'Etat (published in the Journal officie l de
la République français, 8 February 2009).
22
The experimental phase was extended up to 31 December 2012 by decree no 2009-1649 du 23 décembre 2009.

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