The Cour de cassation and its notoriously cryptic and terse style of drafting judgments is a hallmark of French private law almost on a par with the Code civil itself. This does not mean that the Court’s singularity is universally well-received; indeed, quite the contrary. Over the course of the past decades, the Court has brushed off abundant criticism, both domestic and foreign. The lack of intelligibility of its judgments has been a focal point; the Court’s insistence that it only deals with questions of law, thus abandoning a myriad of issues to the discretion of lower judges – the notorious appréciation souveraine des juges du fond – is another. It might then come as a surprise, albeit perhaps a welcome one, to learn that the Court in late 2014 set up an internal task force aimed at recommending changes to its modes of operation and judgments. Since then, several conferences have been organised, extensive consultation of academics has taken place, and a significant body of work has been undertaken from a comparative perspective. As a result, a wide-ranging and passionate debate is taking place in France about the role and responsibilities of the Court, and the measure in which a departure from long-held traditions is appropriate or necessary. This paper will endeavour to contextualize this debate and discuss its possible implications.

A sandwich lunch will be available from 12.30. The meeting will begin at 1pm.