Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series
Edited by Susan Rose-Ackerman and Peter L. Lindseth
Chapter 24: The Powers and Duties of the French Administrative Judge
Jean Massot* To explain the specificity of the ‘office of the administrative judge’ in a country like France, it is necessary to look both to history and to geography. History allows us to understand how this Napoleonic creation, whose original aim was in no way the protection of the citizen against the administration (rather, it was the protection of the latter against interference by citizens and ordinary judicial courts),1 progressively became both an extremely powerful judge and an institution at least as independent as its judicial counterparts. Geography helps to explain how specialized administrative courts have long since ceased to be a specifically French or even continental European institution (they exist, in some form, in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands). One also finds similar judges in countries as various as the majority of francophone African states, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Thailand, and Colombia, to name just a few.2 There must be a reason that an independent administrative judiciary on the French model exists in numerous democratic countries or in countries transitioning to democracy. In this chapter, I will try to show that it is precisely in the way the powers and duties of the administrative judge have developed that one finds a good deal of the justification for the institution’s existence. On the level of mission (Section 1 below), I will show that the French system of administrative justice has all the powers needed to fulfill its role, but that its judicial duties are not quite like...
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