Analysis
14 July 2020

The challenges brought to the independence of the French Public Prosecutor’s Office

Bastille Day Newsletter 2020 - 3-lines outline of some noteworthy events

 

Recent statements by the former French Financial Prosecutor, Eliane Houlette, before the Parliamentary Board of Inquiry [1], has revived the debate on the independence of the French Prosecutor vis-à-vis the executive power.

Indeed, she stated that the independence of French prosecutors, in particular of the French Financial Prosecutor Office (“PNF”), is hampered by a number of obstacles [2]. Among these, the power of the General Prosecutor’s Office, directly linked to the Minister for Justice, to provide general instructions and to request reports on pending cases from the PNF:

“So, in practical and concrete terms, the feeling of dependency [from the executive power] is something I have experienced within the performance of my duties. […] the problem is that through general instructions and special reports, the General Prosecutor’s Office grants himself a right of oversight over the conduct and policy choices of public prosecutors. […] And this right to oversee is omnipresent. […] The question that we can actually ask ourselves is why does the General Prosecutor’s Office have this right to oversee the public prosecution, through specific cases? How should we understand it? Is he acting for himself or for someone else? ” [3].

These statements caused quite a stir, namely considering that Eliane Houlette conducted the investigation of the former French prime Minister François Fillon and his wife, who were accused of misappropriation of public assets and that she reported pressure from the General Prosecutor’s Office to provide and communicate information pertaining to this case.

Another former investigative magistrate, Renaud Van Ruymbeke, condemned the lack of independence of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, stating that politicians have never lobbied for it [4].

In addition, a few days before his appointment as French Minister of Justice, Eric Dupond Moretti, a French criminal lawyer, filed a complaint against X before the Paris Prosecutor office after having been secretly wiretapped by the PNF during an investigation held in 2014 regarding corruption facts involving the former French President Nicolas Sarkozy [5]. He finally withdrew his complaint after his appointment and stated that he will campaign for the reform regarding the independence of the justice:

I want to progress on a subject that is close to my heart: the independence of the justice system. I wish to be the Minister of Justice who will finally bring the long-awaited reform of the Public Prosecutor’s Office to a congress” [6].

Related content

Publication
9 July 2024
Bastille Day Newsletter 2024
As they do every year on 14 July, Navacelle's lawyers offer you a selection of noticeable events which occurred in...
Analysis
21 May 2024
European judicial cooperation & transfer of criminal proceedings between Member States
On 5 April 2023, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation on the transfer of criminal proceedings between...
Analysis
6 May 2024
Overview of the future European Anti-Money Laundering Authority
The new Authority for Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism will be based in Frankfurt and shall start...
Publication
27 February 2024
New sustainability reporting obligations in France: what’s new?
Navacelle contributes to The Legal Industry Reviews' fifth edition about the transposition of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) in...
Press review
12 July 2024
Press review – Week of 8 July 2024
This week, the press review covers the confirmed conviction of a French sawmill for illegally importing exotic wood from Brazil,...
Publication
12 July 2024
Overview of 2024: Environmental law & duty of vigilance
Overview of decisions and events relating to environmental law & duty of vigilance which have occurred in France over the...
Publication
12 July 2024
Overview of 2024: Regulatory matters & investigations
Panorama of decisions and events relating to regulatory matters & investigations which have occurred in France over the last twelve months.
Publication
12 July 2024
Overview of 2024: Ethics & compliance
Overview of decisions and events relating to ethics and compliance which have occurred in France over the last twelve months.
Publication
12 July 2024
Overview of 2024: White collar crime
Panorama of decisions and events relating to white collar crime which have occurred in France over the last twelve months.
Publication
12 July 2024
Overview of 2024: Arbitration
Panorama of decisions and events relating to arbitration which have occurred in France over the last twelve months.
Publication
Judicial public interest agreements (CJIP)
12 July 2024
CJIP Observatory : Key to understand French DPA
Since its creation by the Sapin II law of 9 December 2016, the Judicial Public Interest Agreement (“Convention Judiciaire d’Intérêt...
Publication
Focus on the French financial markets authority activity (AMF)
12 July 2024
Focus on the French financial markets authority activity (AMF)
2023 marked the 20th anniversary of the AMF. More than ever, the French regulator intends to support Paris as Europe’s...
Publication
12 July 2024
Focus on the French competition authority leniency program
In December 2023, the French Competition Authority published a procedural notice relating to its leniency program, providing clarifications and new...
Publication
12 July 2024
Bastille : The July Column
For 9 years, the Bastille Day Newsletter is symbolised by the July Column (Colonne de Juillet), located on the Place...
Press review
5 July 2024
Press review – Week of 1 July 2024
This week, the press review covers the acquittal of 28 people implicated in the Panama Papers scandal, Turkey’s withdrawal and...