French world of justice lays down law in historic strike movement
French magistrates, lawyers and court clerks are staging an unprecedented nationwide strike Wednesday, gathering in front of the country’s courthouses to denounce the “undignified” conditions under which they are made to operate.
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Underscoring a “deep malaise” in their professions, the strikers say a lack of resources and funding has seen case files pile up to the point where carrying out justice has been made impossible.
Repeated burnouts, mounting sick leave and the recent suicide of a young lawyer have galvanised the day of action – which was called by 17 trade unions and also has the support of the highest court in France’s judicial system, the Court of Cassation.
The institution said it “could not remain silent at a time when despair affects those who try, sometimes at the cost of sacrifice or tragedy, to carry out justice”.
La motion historique adoptée ce matin par les magistrats de la Cour de cassation en assemblée générale : "affirmons solennellement que la Cour de cassation ne saurait rester silencieuse à l'heure où la désespérance touche celles et ceux qui tentent de faire œuvre de justice"🔽 pic.twitter.com/vDDN2fw7K4— SMagistrature (@SMagistrature) December 13, 2021
At the brink
Despite two successive budget increases of 8 percent, the courts remain stretched with relentless hearings – divorce cases are to be treated within 15 minutes – hurriedly ruled upon or closed without proper follow up or due diligence.
Decisions, they say, get handed down without time to hear from the parties involved.
This situation places judicial staff in an "untenable dilemma: to make decisions quickly but poorly, or to take the time to make them properly but causing unacceptable delays”, president of the French Lawyers' Union, Claire Dujardin, told France Info.
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France, whose judicial budget ranks 14th out of the EU’s 27 member states, would need to double its number of magistrates and clerks to reach a level that corresponded with its neighbours, Dujardin added.
Industry professionals are calling for a massive postponements of hearings, while in Paris a demonstration is planned at midday in front of the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
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