On 8 June 2021, Bill No 7307 ("the bill") to improve the efficiency and speed of civil and commercial proceedings was adopted unanimously.
The main objective of the bill is to optimise current and future judicial proceedings with the aim of making the administration of justice faster and more efficient. The bill will contribute to ensuring that judicial decisions in civil and commercial matters can be rendered within a reasonable period of time.
Amongst other measures, the bill extends the jurisdiction (“taux de compétence”) of the justices of the peace (justices de paix) to civil and commercial cases with a value of up to EUR 15,000 (up from EUR 10,000). From now on, such cases can be dealt with by justices of the peace in oral proceedings in which the parties are not obliged to be represented by a lawyer. This will help lighten the caseload of - and consequently speed up proceedings before - the district courts (tribunaux d’arrondissement).
In written proceedings before the district courts, it is now required for each lawyer to prepare summary submissions prior to the end of the pre-trial phase (“mise en état”). These summary submissions must contain all arguments and claims set out in previous submissions. This will allow judges to take decisions more quickly as they will no longer have to read each set of pleadings filed in the course of the proceedings and can rely on the last submissions filed by each party. Furthermore, the parties can mutually agree to waive oral arguments, which, once again, should allow for speedier judgments.
In addition, the bill establishes a simplified procedure for less complex cases involving no more than two parties (one claimant and one defendant), where the value of the dispute does not exceed EUR 100,000. This procedure, which will facilitate dispute resolution, provides for fixed time limits within which lawyers must file submissions and exhibits and is based on the procedure applicable before the administrative courts. Each party may file only two sets of submissions.
Most of the new provisions will enter into force on 16 September 2021.