Journal Article

THE SPECIALIZED JURISDICTION IN FRANCE: A BETTER CHANCE FOR MINORS

CATHERINE BLATIER

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 12, issue 2, pages 146-160
Published in print August 1998 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online August 1998 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/lawfam/12.2.146
THE SPECIALIZED JURISDICTION IN FRANCE: A BETTER CHANCE FOR MINORS

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Since 1912, France has preferred a specialized legal system for minors, with a juvenile court judge who has jurisdiction over both civil and penal matters. The same judge conducts the preliminary investigation of the case, passes judgment, and supervises the action of social workers. This system's goals are not limited to immediate behaviour change, but include more complex psycho-social factors like the child's relationship to his or her parents. The continuity of the process is guaranteed by the fact that the case is followed by one particular judge and assisted by social workers and psychologists. For about fifteen years, many countries have developed a set of principles under the direction of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, and International Associations, in an attempt to establish consistent connections between judicial and social policies.

French legislation has decided in favour of a specialized court system for minors. However, certain aspects of this approach are currently being criticized. In the first part of this article, the laws leading to this system will be examined, and in the second part the opinions of various magistrates and psychologists who defend it will be reviewed. The juvenile legal system differs slightly from that of other countries; we shall see how other countries have responded to this common problem. The final section questions the application of the specialization principle.

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Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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