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All publications by Charlotte Desfontaines

Charlotte Desfontaines

Member of the Lyon Bar

29 September 2020

Pre-trial detention: The health crisis does not in itself justify the release from prison

The conditions of detention, already well deteriorated due to the overcrowding that has been a constant feature of places of deprivation of liberty for several years, are necessarily and unfortunately adversely affected by the health situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic. How to implement social distancing, and more broadly, so-called “barrier gestures” (i.e. preventative measures that each individual should take to protect himself/herself and others against COVID-19) in places where the daily life is marked by the proximity between fellow inmates? It is impossible to do so.

Consequently, many requests for release from pretrial detention have been filed with the Liberty and Custody Judge. However, these requests for release have been dismissed. Following the upholding of a dismissal order, one inmate appealed to the Cour de Cassation (French Supreme Court). On August 19, 2020, the Criminal Chamber of the Cour de Cassation issued a ruling that confirmed the dismissal of the request for release.

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6 August 2020

Employees’ freedom of religion and ban on wearing a beard

Does an employer who dismisses for serious misconduct an employee working as security consultant for a company providing security and defense services to governments, international non-governmental organizations or private companies, accusing him of wearing a beard that is “trimmed in a way that is intentionally meaningful in both religious and political terms”, infringe said employee’s freedom of religion?

The Cour de Cassation (French Supreme Court) was asked to address this issue and has expanded existing case-law in this area, by issuing on July 8, 2020 a ruling on the fundamental rights and freedoms of employees in the workplace. The Labor Chamber of the Cour de Cassation specifically considered that dismissal for serious misconduct based on such a ground was discriminatory.

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19 June 2020

Covid-19 – Criminal liability of employers: A real mitigation or a simple reminder of the principle of individualization of penalties?

On May 11, 2020, the state of health emergency was extended through the adoption of Law No. 2020-546 which supplemented existing provisions. One of the purposes of this legislation is to mitigate the employer’s liability in the event of infection or exposure to infection by the Covid-19.

Indeed, many companies had to continue operating since the outbreak of the crisis, thereby exposing employees to the risk of infection. In the event of infection of one of them by the virus, the employer, i.e. both the natural person who is at the head of the company and the company itself as legal entity, may be held liable.

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5 May 2020

Covid-19 and Amazon: Employers must involve staff representatives in the assessment of the risks and the preparation of the resulting health related measures

On April 24, 2020, the Versailles Court of Appeals handed down an insightful decision concerning the implementation of employee protection measures by employers in the current health context and lockdown imposed by the Government on March 16.

Ruling on an appeal lodged by the American giant Amazon against the order issued by the Nanterre Judicial Court on April 14, 2020, the Versailles Court of Appeals upheld the order in that it provided for a mandatory obligation to implement a comprehensive national health and safety prevention plan for employees, with prior consultation with staff representatives. This decision is in line with the need to reconcile the necessity to maintain a business activity with the preservation of employees’ health.

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22 April 2020

DataJust: Towards a predictive Justice?

Decree No.2020-356 of March 27, 2020 provides for the implementation of an algorithm called DataJust for a period of two years. This algorithm aims in particular at developing an indicative baseline of compensation for personal injurie.

This baseline system will be made available not only to judges, but also to lawyers, insurers and, above all, victims, in order to assess the amount of compensation to which the latter may be entitled, with the aim of encouraging out-of-court settlements.

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9 April 2020

Covid-19: French rules of criminal procedure have been adapted

In order to ensure the continued operation of French criminal courts necessary to maintain public order, the Government adopted on March 25, 2020 Ordinance 2020-303 in furtherance of the Emergency Law of March 23, 2020 . The Ordinance adapts the rules applicable to courts ruling on criminal matters.

These derogations from the procedural rules usually applicable in criminal matters were taken primarily for obvious health reasons, in order to reduce physical contacts, but also to ensure the continued operation of the French public Justice System.

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