France has twice as many judges per inhabitant as the other countries of the Council of Europe

Repairing justice will take time. The figures that compare the means of justice and their operation in the 46 States of the Council of Europe, published on Wednesday, October 5, continue to be cruel for France. According to the 2022 report of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (Cepej), based on data from the year 2020, France spends 72.53 euros per year and per inhabitant to finance its judicial system (excluding prisons, judicial protection of young and operation of the ministry), where the European average is 78 euros. An average shot down by the countries of central Europe.

Compared to its direct neighbors such as Italy (82 euros per year and per inhabitant), Spain (88 euros) or Germany (141 euros), the gap is impressive. It has not been filled despite the 10% increase from 2016 to 2020 in the budget allocated to the tricolor judicial system. Because the means of justice have also increased in other European countries. The 26% increase in the budget of the Ministry of Justice in three years (2021-2022-2023) should however begin to be seen during the next European study in 2024.

This finding confirms the diagnosis made by the General States of Justice in July. But it is not certain that Emmanuel Macron’s promise to create 1,500 judicial posts during his five-year term will be enough to make up for the delay. According to Cepej, France had 11.2 judges per 100,000 inhabitants in 2020, compared to 22 on average in Europe, and 3.2 prosecutors (compared to 11.8).

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In addition, the rest of the staff, although essential for the functioning of justice, such as secretaries, civil servants and specialized assistants around the judge, is smaller than in other places. This may explain France’s difficulties, because it contradicts the rule observed by Cepej, according to which when each judge is assisted by a greater number of officials who are not judges, fewer judges are needed.

Embolized civil justice

This is one of the challenges facing the French system. Aimed at helping you with legal research and decision preparation, “The Judge Around Team”, long heralded as a solution for managing both massive and extremely complex litigation, is becoming a reality.

“The existence, alongside judges, of competent personnel who perform well-defined functions and are endowed with a recognized status is an essential condition for the efficient functioning of judicial systems”, says the Cepej. France has an average of 36 non-judicial officials for every 100,000 inhabitants, well below the European average of 58. The consequence is the embolization of civil justice whose effectiveness measured by Cepej, it is among the worst in Europe in terms of coverage rate and volume of cases.

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