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Court structure - a brief overview

The principal Courts which non-French plaintiffs (or defendants) are likely to encounter in their dealings in France are :

Tribunal d’Instance or Lower District Court

Tribunal de Grande Instance or Higher District Court – before which litigants are required by Statute to be represented by a French Attorney (viz. in French an "Avocat")

Tribunal de Commerce or Commercial Court (this is a separate Jurisdiction which deals only with matters relating to trade and commerce disputes and the Bench is elected from within the local business community).

Cour d’Appel or Court of Appeal (there are over thirty in France, in each of its major administrative regions).

Cour de Cassation or Court of Cassation (sometimes referred to as France’s Supreme Judicial Court)

It should be noted that the oral part of proceedings is far less important, in comparison with, say, common-law jurisdictions, than the exchange of written submissions prior to the trial per se. Moreover, for all comparative intents and purposes, cross-examination of witnesses does not exist and furthermore there are no juries in Civil matters.



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