Five questions about the historic move of the Paris Court House


The first hearings were held Monday in the new court, which left the island of the city for the northeast of the capital.
The world | 16.04.2018 at 17:27 • Updated 16.04.2018 at 17:44 | By Cécile Bouanchaud (with AFP)

After several centuries on the Ile de la Cité, the court of Paris has left its historical setting where Marie-Antoinette, Emile Zola or Philippe Pétain have been judged. While the move was initiated in early March, the new palace of justice , a large modern building in the district of Batignolles, north-west of the capital, hosted Monday, April 16, his first hearing.
Designed by Renzo Piano, the new Tribunal de Grande Instance (TGI) is center of a “judicial city”, which also includes the new premises of the police transferred from the famous 36, Quai des Orfèvres, and a House of the Bar Association.
What motivates this move? Considered for a long time, the move was relaunched in 2003 by the president Jacques Chirac . In 2009, his successor, Nicolas Sarkozy decided in favor of the Batignolles, within the framework project of Greater Paris. Nearly ten years later, the neighborhood is still under construction, while the extension of line 14 of the metro is two years late.
“It was absolutely necessary move . We could not return justice in satisfactory conditions ” in the former courthouse, justifies Jean-Michel Hayat, president of the TGI of Paris. The main difficulty lay in the small offices of magistrates and registry officials. The courtrooms were used to their maximum capacity, confirmed the Ministry of Justice: studies have “Demonstrated that even at the price of important work, the palace had reached the possible limits of its extension”.
Magistrates, clerks and court officials welcome working conditions which will improve thanks to offices often more spacious, brighter, and especially better distributed. The move of the TGI will, moreover, accommodate the service of the help court, currently installed in the premises of the Commercial Court.
What does the new building look like? Culminating at one hundred and sixty meters, spread over thirty-eight floors, the new tribunal, located a few meters from the ring road, has been imposing itself for several months in the capital’s landscape: it is the second tallest tower in Paris within muros, after the Montparnasse tower. Up to nine thousand people will visit this building each day, consisting of a base on which three huge parallelepipeds are placed, all with walls reflecting the sky.
It was designed by the architect Bernard Plattner, RPBW agency, founded by the famous Renzo Piano, who designed the Center Pompidou. A team of twenty people worked for seven years on this project.
” We are not going to change justice, but we can work for people to say: ” It feels good in this building ” ” commented the French architect Swiss . “Right away, we wanted to destroy the symbols of ancient palaces » , adds Mr. Plattner, who did not want justice “Impressive” or for to access to the court, “First you need ascend steps for good understand that you are down there and that justice is far superior to you ” .
At the entry of the litigants is posted article 9 of the Declaration of the rights of the man and the citizen of 1789: “Every man is presumed innocent until he has been convicted. ” The luminous building plays on the transparencies, especially in the hall of steps, behind a large glass facade. Large escalators go up to the courtrooms. The TGI and the twenty district courts will be grouped together in this building which has ninety courtrooms.
How is the move organized? In total, about two thousand people, from twenty-six different sites (courthouse, financial center, district courts, etc.), have integrated the new site. The relocation operations began in early March and are scheduled to run until mid-July. About 1,300 trucks are mobilized to to transfer the forty-two kilometers of documents, nearly 100,000 boxes.
Since mid-February, at the approach of the first hearing on Monday, civil referrals, blank hearings and visits have been organized. In correctional, the trials will start mid-May. The trial Assizes will be held, them, always on the island of the City: the court of appeal, on which depend the courts of assises, and the Court of cassation will remain in the historic walls of the courthouse.
Court funding, in the form of a public-private partnership (PPP), is controversial. The association Justice in the City, composed mainly of lawyers, led a long legal battle for the maintenance of the TGI on the Ile de la Cité and demanded the cancellation of the PPP contract.
The group Bouygues finances the construction of the building and will provide maintenance and upkeep for twenty-seven years. In return, the State will pay rent for the duration of the contract after which it will become owner of the building. The total cost of the new building is 2.35 billion euros over twenty-seven years, ie 50 million euros of rent per year, corresponding to the repayment of the investment, and 35 million euros of operating royalties (services of maintenance, maintenance, renewal of the building and services).
Annual rents “Which will weigh heavily on the budget of the Ministry of Justice” , criticized the Court of Auditors. In March, the Minister of Justice, Nicole Belloubet, announced the abandonment of PPPs for future construction of prisons and courts. The works cost them 495 million euros, in value 2012 – the date of signature of the partnership contract.
Does this move raise criticism? The black spot of this move is access by transport network in common, because of the postponement to 2020 of the arrival of metro line 14. Line 13, already overloaded, will be the main means of access for court staff, hundreds of lawyers and some six thousand individuals who will have to go there every day. “This is a major problem” acknowledged the president of the tribunal de grande instance of Paris.
Criticism is also emerging on the layout of the space: the fifteen judges of the children are located on the eleventh floor, to which the public is not supposed to to have access, while they receive families and children.
For Marie-Aimee Peyron, Paris bolster, one of the main problems of the new tribunal comes from “Glass cages installed in all courtrooms” . These ‘Box’ reserved for defendants who appear to be detained “Prevent the lawyer from talking with his client during the hearing, which is totally unacceptable” . The president of the tribunal de grande instance of Paris has know that he would like “That the unglazed space is more important, for facilitate the communication between the defendant and his lawyer ” .


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