Civil litigation in France covers all disputes which, in the absence of a settlement agreement between the parties, are brought before the Courts.The competent jurisdiction will depend on the amounts at stake:

  • For sums up to 4 000 Euros the competent Court is currently the Tribunal de Proximité though this jurisdiction should be removed in July 2017 and these small claims will be dealt with by the Tribunal d’Instance (lower civil Court of first instance)
  • For sums between 4 000 Euros and 10 000 Euros the competent Court is the “Tribunal d’Instance”
  • For sums above 10 000 Euros the competent Court is the “Tribunal de Grande Instance” (higher civil Court of first instance).
    The “Tribunal de Grande Instance” deals with all disputes which a specific statutory instrument did not refer to specialised Courts (Commercial Courts, Employment Tribunal, Social Security Court etc).

Before the “Tribunal de Grande Instance” parties must be represented by a French lawyer.

Proceedings are in writing.

Before the other Courts parties may, if they so wish, defend themselves though given that the legal debate will deal with points of law, existing case law and other applicable rules it is strongly advised to instruct a French lawyer.

There are no juries for civil matters in France.

It is furthermore important to remember that in France costs do not follow the action.

In other words if a party loses, this party is not obliged to pay the other side’s legal costs.

It is essential to respond to a writ in France as Courts do hand down decisions in the absence of parties i.e. default judgements.

All the advocates within our practice are fully entitled to practice (and to appear in Court if necessary) throughout the whole of the French territory and regularly do so on a daily basis.

They who can assist and provide expert advice in English and in a manner understandable to those of a non-French culture.

For a specific enquiry relating to civil litigation please click here.