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JUDICIAL ORGANIZATION IN FRANCE.
Judicial power in France is exercised by five categories of tribunals: (a) At the head, by the Court of Cassation, which sits in Paris, and which possesses jurisdiction throughout the French Republic; (b) the Courts of Appeal; (c) the tribunals of first instance; (d) the Tribunals of Commerce; (e) the Justices de Pair, or Small Debts or County Courts. France is divided, from a judicial point of view, into twenty-six circonscriptions, each of which possesses a Court of Appeal. They are themselves divided into arrondissements or districts. A district possesses a Court intituled tribunal of first instance. In every town of some commercial importance there exist special tribunals, which adjudicate in all cases relating to trade. (See with regard to these tribunals, the Law Times of the 9th November, 1912). The district is itself divided into cantons, in which the judicial power is exercised by a Judge called Juge de Pair. Courts of Appeal.—These Courts were officially established by the law of the 27th Ventose An VIII. and the Senatus Consult of the 28th Floréal An XII. During the French Revolution each district possessed a tribunal of first instance, but no Superior Court existed to revise their decisions. The Government at this period refused to institute any corporate body, judicial or otherwise, which could assume any political importance and become a power in the State. Accordingly, the Constitution of the 5th Fructidor An III., instead of creating Courts of Appeal, enacted that when a litigant appealed against a decision the case would be referred to another Court of first instance. Such a system was open to two objections, the first being that the appeal was dealt with by Judges of the same class, and, furthermore, conflicts between the various Courts took place very frequently. The law of the 27th Ventose An VIII. repealed the above system and created Courts of Appeal, and the said law constitutes even at the present time one of the bases of the French judicial system. Every Court of Appeal is composed of one president, a certain number of Presidents of Chambers (or Divisions), and ten or nineteen Judges called Conseillers, according to the importance of the Court. A Court of Appeal is divided into Chambers, which possess the same powers in reference to the cases brought before them, and each Chamber adjudicates separately thereon. In Paris the Court of Appeal is composed of a greater number of Judges than any other similar Court—seventy-two in all—and consists of ten Chambers. The Courts of Appeal are created to revise, when required by the parties, all judgments delivered by the tribunals of first instance or the commercial tribunals, over which they possess jurisdiction—i.e., situated within their circonscription. The decisions of the Courts of Appeal are not described as judgments, but as arrels.
Tribunals of First Instance.—These Courts are also described as being civil tribunals. Their organization consists of the following: One President, Presidents of Chambers, and a certain number of Judges and Assistant Judges, according to the importance of the Court. Similarly to the Courts of Appeal they are divided into Chambers which possess the same powers. As soon as suits are instituted in a Tribunal of First Instance the same are entered in the official list of causes pending before the said tribunal, and afterwards in the list of one of its Chambers.
The jurisdiction of these Courts is general—namely, they can adjudicate in all cases which are not specially attributed to certain particular Courts, such as the Justices de Pair (County Courts), the Tribunals of Commerce, and the Conseils des Prud’hommes, the latter of which is an inferior tribunal for the settlement of disputes between employers and the working class. o
Tribunals of Commerce.—(See with regard to these tribunals the Law Times of the 9th November, 1912).
Justices de Pair.—These tribunals were created by a decree of the 16-24th August, 1790, to deal with actions involving small amounts. The procedure in these Courts is very simple, and the costs are infinitesimal. This jurisdiction presents two important characteristics: (a) In all the French ordinary Courts three Judges at least must be present to render a judgment. A Juge de Pair delivers his judgment alone. (b) He is empowered to conciliate the parties as frequently as possible.
Court of Cassation.—This Court is the highest Court existing in France. It is composed of a First President, of three Presidents of Chambers, and of Forty-five Judges or Conseillers. It consists of three Chambers, the Chambre des Requêtes, the Chambre Civile, and the Chambre Criminelle. Fifteen Judges sit in each Chamber.
It is necessary, to understand the jurisdiction of this Court, to examine carefully the attributes of each Chamber. However, we may state before going deeper into the subject, that the questions submitted to it must be simply questions of law and never of fact.
When a final civil or commercial judgment has been rendered in any of the other Courts and is considered by one of the parties as violating the law, he is permitted to submit the question to the Court of Cassation, by means of a pourvoi. The case is accordingly brought before the Chambre des Requêtes, and its functions are to consider whether the motives invoked in the pourvoi, or appeal, are genuine or not. In the first case the pourroi is admitted; in the second case it is rejected, and the case is definitely settled. If the pourvoi is admitted, the decision of the Chambre des Requêtes does not enter into details the result of such admission is to submit the case to the Chambre Civile, where a contradictory debate will take place. As a matter of fact, we may state that all questions brought before the Chambre Civile present either a serious presumption of the violation of the law or real difficulties as to its interpretation, for the reason that the Chambre des Requeles has already examined the arguments exposed in the pourvoi, or appeal.
The Judges of the Chambre Civile may render an arrét (judgments of the Court of Cassation are called arréts), in two ways: (a) They may decide that the decision submitted to their appreciation does not violate any principle of the law, and that accordingly the case is finally settled, and the said decision remains in force. (b) They may also decide that the decision violates the law; consequently that it has no effect, and the parties are in the same position that they would have been if it had never been rendered.
The effect of the decision of the Court of Cassation is to declare that the law has not been respected, but it does not modify the decision appealed against. The case is sent back to be tried over again in another Court of the same jurisdiction as the one which rendered the said decision. This is the application of the principle to which we have previously alluded—i.e., that the Court of Cassation possesses jurisdiction in reference to questions of law, but never of fact; and also of the statement that in France there exists only two degrees of jurisdiction, the first when the case is brought for the first time before a Court, and the second when one of the parties appeals against the judgment rendered. In a word, litigants may obtain relief, primo, before the Judges who are competent to hear the case; secundo, before those who can adjudicate upon appeals. No other recourse exists except an appeal to the Court of Cassation for violation of the law only. In such cases, if it be decided that as a matter of fact the law has not been respected, the Supreme Court does not decide upon the merits of the case, but refers the same to another Court of the same jurisdiction as the one which delivered the judgment appealed against.
LAW MAKING IN THE TURBULENT BALRANS.
By FELIX J. Koch.
It is indeed a study and story in contrasts—the whence of the laws that govern the peoples of those turbulent Balkans! On the one hand, Turkey, supposedly a limited monarchy, since the new Turk came into power—but “limited monarchy,” giving a hand in the rule to the Mussulman only, and leaving the Christian as abject a slave of the ruling Pasha as any serf of Asiatic Russia; on the other, there is Montenegro, where every man is a soldier, knows his rights, worships his ruler, and will shed his last drop of blood to enforce the laws of Csarnagora. And then there are governments betwixt and between.
For example, there is Servia. In Servia to-day the Parliament may actually make or frame or pass the laws, but the extent of their enforcement, and, after all, the source of their initiation, lies with a small clique of the military, better known as the regicides. In Servia—at the capitalyou will find army officials intrusted with this or that high office of law enforcement. To-day they are uniformed and heavy with chevrons, but folks tell you their particular rise to power came through some phase of their aid toward the murder of the late King and Queen.
The tragedy was one which shocked Europe. A King, a Queen, a Minister of State, a servant or two, murdered in the night in truly Macbethan fashion, and the bodies tossed through the palace windows into the streets, in order that any and all might see and so quiet all doubts as to their actual extinction. You or I may hold up our hands aghast, but the Serbs are really a law-abiding folk, and they tell another story. In order to produce a like reign of law, they state, it took the entire French Revolution to do, in France, what the murder of five people did in Servia.
Queen Draga, of Servia, was a known harlot, and the women of the Serb aristocracy refused to associate with her. She took out her revenge, through the King, on their husbands. Men were refused promotions or even lowered in rank on slightest pretext. The most dissolute characters were advanced over their heads. Servia was in foment—and then it happened. Had they merely exiled the King or even the Queen there would always have been a party, looking, of course, to advancement under the Restoration, striving to bring them back. That would have been one cause of perpetual discord. Wherefore — the murder; and to-day little Servia is indeed a law-abiding land. So eager are the people to keep the law that a stranger, in the smaller towns, is spied on by all—lest he do mischief; and in our own case we were arrested, on their complaint, for no worse a crime than taking color notes of a wedding procession on the highway. We might have been sketching the military road, you see, and so bringing harm to Servia. In Turkey, as suggested, the pendulum swings the other way. Whatsoever the mock Parliament at Constantinople may do, the Sultan, his viziers, and, under them, the Valis, or province governors, really rule about as they see fit. The final unit—the county—as it were, in Turkey, has its law enforcement left in the hands of a Pasha, who has, in most places, power of life and death. The Pashalik, his official residence, is the finest structure in the county. At its rear is a verandah, on which he sits to listen to the military band, which plays when the notion may seize him. Across from that seat of state is the administration building—its lower floor the prison, where the offenders against the law are incarcerated. Strange place, that prison. The bars open directly on the court, and so prisoners enjoy all the benefits of fair