Constitutional Council (Conseil Constitutionnel)
The Constitutional Council was created in 1958 by the Fifth Republic and it has nine members, each appointed for nine years.
Its primary role is to ensure France’s laws comply with the country’s constitution. It performs this duty of verification both in advance, before laws are passed, and in retrospect, by assessing Priority Questions on Issues of Constitutionality (question prioritaire de constitutionnalité).
This is a specific procedure that can be used during a lawsuit, whereby the Council of State or the Court of Cassation submits a Priority Question on Constitutionality to the Constitutional Court, asking it to rule on the constitutionality of a particular legal provision and, if necessary, repeal the provision or establish how the provision should be interpreted to ensure it is lawful.
With extensive experience in cross-disciplinary legal issues and the highest legal norms, specialist Council Lawyers are especially skilled at submitting priority questions of confidentiality for referral to the Constitutional Council, and at arguing their point both in writing and verbally before the Council.
They may also be asked to pass on contributions (using a process known as porte étroite) made by members of civil society wishing to state their own opinion on the constitutionality of a law being assessed by the Constitutional Council prior to its enactment.