In a notable decision, the first civil chamber of the Supreme Court held that under the Code of Civil Procedure, a judge cannot refuse to examine expert reports which disfavour a party that was not called on or represented during the expertise proceedings. With this decision, the Supreme Court has confirmed a precedent by which expert reports drawn up in disregard of the adversarial principle may retain their probative force.
The Code of Civil Procedure provides for fast-track proceedings before the courts of appeal in certain cases. In such cases, the appellant must notify their declaration of appeal and file their submission within specific timeframes, failing which the declaration of appeal will be declared void. The Court of Cassation recently specified the rules which apply where an appellant notifies their declaration of appeal and submission before receiving the notice of hearing.
In a June 2020 decision, the first civil chamber of the Supreme Court recognised the admissibility of a petition for a risk of lack of impartiality against a member of an independent administrative authority – namely, the president of the French Polynesian Competition Authority. By way of this decision, the Supreme Court confirmed its earlier decision that an independent administrative authority with the power to impose penalties must comply with Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Emergency Law 2020-290 of 23 March 2020 enabled the government to legislate by virtue of government orders in various areas. In application of the law, the government adopted and published 25 orders to remedy the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, the government adopted Order 2020-306 concerning the extension of deadlines which expire during the health emergency period and the adjustment of procedures during the same period.
Until recently, in written procedures regarding civil matters, the parties had to be represented by a lawyer, whereas in oral procedures, representation was optional and the parties could represent themselves before a court. This practice has changed following the major reform of French civil procedure, which has amended, among many other procedural rules, those concerning mandatory representation in first-instance courts.