Justice balance

Justice 2018-2022

The 2018-2022 programming and reform bill for Justice is aimed at delivering swifter, more effective justice that is more in step with the times for citizens.


Almost six months' worth of consultations and talks have staked out a series of structural reforms:

1. Simplifying civil proceedings:

  • Develop options for the amicable settlement of disputes
  • Provide for a single referral option in civil proceedings
  • Simplify and speed up divorce proceedings
  • Simplify the protection of vulnerable adults
  • Professionalise the management of debt deductions from earnings
  • Better protect citizens by extending access to legal counsel in complex disputes
  • Enable settlement by electronic means of minor day-to-day disputes
  • Set up a national court for the electronic processing of payment orders
  • Relieve courts of non-contentious duties
  • Trial a fast-track settlement of disputes bearing on child maintenance

2. Easing the burden on administrative courts and improving the effectiveness of administrative justice

  • Call on honorary administrative judges
  • Recruit assistant lawyers
  • Improve the effectiveness of judgments

3. Simplifying and enhancing the effectiveness of criminal proceedings

  • Make criminal justice more accessible to victims
  • Enhance the effectiveness of investigations
  • Simplify the work of criminal proceeding stakeholders by scrapping unnecessary red tape
  • Provide more effective solutions to petty crime
  • Trial a Département-level criminal court
  • Simplify the investigation stage

4. Effectiveness and purpose of sentences

  • Establish a new scale of sentences
  • Hand down appropriate sentences
  • Ensure that sentences handed down are properly implemented
  • Introduce suspended sentences
  • Develop community service

5. Diversifying the ways in which young offenders are taken in hand

  • Prepare minors for their release from juvenile detention centres
  • Trial a new day reception option for offenders

6. Improving the effectiveness of the judicial system and adapting the way courts are run

  • Merge district and regional courts (tribunaux d'instance and tribunaux de grande instance)
  • Enable specialist centres to be set up in départements where there are several regional courts
  • Trial a new form of organisation for courts of appeal


In keeping with the commitments made, justice has been made a priority of the presidential five-year term. The Government's aim is to make it more understandable, accessible, simple and effective.

Underpinning this bill are the Justice system projects, launched last October across five main areas:
  • Digital transformation
  • Improvement and simplification of criminal proceedings
  • Improvement and simplification of civil proceedings
  • Adaptation of the court network
  • Purpose and effectiveness of sentences
Additional human and budgetary resources are paramount for putting this reform into practice; the Justice budget is set to increase by €1.6bn, and 6,500 extra jobs are planned over the next five years.

19 February 2019 : parliament's definitive adoption of the bill

23 October 2018: adoption of the bill at first reading in the Senate.

20 April 2018: presentation of the bill to the Council of Ministers by Nicole Belloubet, Keeper of the Seals, Minister of Justice.

9 March 2018: presentation of the main thrusts of the Justice reform by the Prime Minister and Minister of Justice during a trip to Reims.

15 January 2018: presentation of the conclusions on the various projects.

6 October 2017: launch of the justice system projects.

4 July 2017: in his General Policy Statement, the Prime Minister announced that the Government would be presenting a five-year programming act on Justice means in 2018.