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Criminal Law

29 September 2020 | Charlotte Desfontaines

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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19 June 2020 | Charlotte Desfontaines

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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16 June 2020 | Anaëlle Idjeri

International Corruption: Issuance of a circular on France’s criminal policy

On June 2, 2020, the French Minister of Justice sent to all competent public prosecutors a circular for immediate application specifying France’s “criminal justice policy in the fight against international corruption”.

This circular sets out guidelines for legal action at all stages of criminal proceedings, from the information gathering stage to the determination of the mode of prosecution.

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9 April 2020 | Charlotte Desfontaines

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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28 February 2020 | Charlotte Desfontaines

Acquittal of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin: A victory for Soulier Avocats

On January 30, 2020, the Court of Appeals of Lyon acquitted Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, defended in particular by Mr. André Soulier, of the charge of failing to report abuses with regard to the sexual assaults and rapes committed by Mr. Father Bernard Preynat on boy scouts he supervised between 1972 and 1991.

In this high-profile case, the judges of the Court of Appeals decided to overturn the first-instance judgement handed down by the Criminal Court of Lyon which had convicted Philippe Barbarin. Probably less receptive to the emotional turmoil legitimately created by this case, the appellate judges based their decision primarily on the strict application of the rule of law.

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