Composition & Organization

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A welcome message from the Presidents

We are pleased to welcome you to the website of the High Council for the Judiciary (Conseil Supérieur de la Magistrature, hereafter referred to as the CSM).

As a constitutional body and guarantor of judicial independence, the CSM is striving to communicate better on its missions, so that it can contribute to maintaining public confidence in our institutions.

Due to greater knowledge of the judicial world amongst our fellow citizens, the high demand expressed by public opinion for transparency in the conduct of judicial affairs requires communication that is keen to preserve the Council’s image of competence, impartiality and independence while asserting its constitutional authority among the institutions of its standing.

The use of new media contributes to this renewed approach.  Mindful of the need to reconcile relevance of communication with necessary vigilance when it comes to ethical rules.

The creation of this website meets such requirements. It provides users with undeniable technical possibilities (efficient search engines, use of video, subject indexing of activity reports, etc.) and offers a permanent link to the Council’s Twitter account.

The website provides the opportunity to report even further on each aspect of the CSM’s activities. It covers the progress of missions in the appeal courts and international meetings carried out in the framework of the European and Francophone networks of Councils for the Judiciary.  It also mentions general meetings and the regular announcement of deliberations concerning the appointment of judges and prosecutors, which might interest the public.

In the interests of education, we are eager to explain the role of the Council in the field of ethical rules and to present the mechanism, which enables litigants to petition the Council.

You are invited to browse the different sections of the Council’s website and to discover important information regarding its actions, its history and its constitutional role.

Chantal Arens & François Molins

How the Council works

By putting an end to the situation in which the President of the Republic presided over the CSM and in which the Minister of Justice, Keeper of the Seals, was its Vice-President, Article 65 of the Constitution, in its version modified by the law of 25th July 2008, identified three divisions within the Council.

The division overseeing judges is presided by the President of the Court of Cassation, not only in respect of appointment but also discipline. Similarly, the division responsible for prosecutors is presided by the General Prosecutor of the Court of Cassation.

The 7th paragraph of Article 65 of the Constitution establishes a plenary which is presided by the President of the Court of Cassation. In its role as guarantor of the independence of the judiciary, this plenary committee has jurisdiction to consider requests emanating from the President of the Republic or the Minister of Justice regarding matters listed in Article 65 of the Constitution.

Furthermore, the reform concerns the number of members who are not judges or prosecutors and who participate in the relevant divisions for judges and prosecutors as follows: a member of the French Council of State, elected by the plenary of the Council of State; a lawyer, appointed by the President of the National Bar Association after a plenary of the Association gives its consent to this appointment; and six public figures appointed by the President of the Republic, the President of the National Assembly and the President of the Senate. Judges and prosecutors represent a minority in the divisions that oversee their appointment but there is a principle of parity when it comes to discipline.

Lastly, the law of 22nd July 2010 provides for budgetary autonomy for the CSM. This legislative evolution has allowed for greater independence.