File : Role of the Registries

Part 4

Court clerk: a regulated profession

Procedures to be carried out at the Commercial Court Registry

Commercial court clerks provide a local public service. They perform a regulated and controlled activity. State control takes the form mainly of regulation as to aptitude, appointments and professional practice.

The conditions to satisfy in order to become a court clerk
They are set out in articles R. 742-1 and following of the commercial Code.
They require that the candidate:
- be of French nationality;
- has fulfilled national military obligations;
- has not been subject to a criminal sentence for activities contrary to honour, probity and good conduct;
- has not been subject to an administrative or disciplinary sanction in being discharged, struck off or having a function revoked;
- has not been personally bankrupt or under an interdiction to carry out business management;
- be in possession of a Bachelors Degree (Law) or equivalent;
- has undergone professional training as a clerk of the court for a period of 1 year;
- has successfully sat the professional aptitude examination.

These aptitude conditions are mandatory but by themselves do not suffice in order to be a clerk of the court: the candidate must also be appointed by the Garde des Sceaux.

Conditions for professional practice
A commercial Court clerk may be authorised to practice either as an individual, or in the framework of a professional civil company comprising several members, in the framework of a liberal profession company, or as a salaried clerk.

The appointment by the public authorities places court clerks under the authority of the Ministry of Justice, and comprises rigorous controls as part of strict professional regulations. The controls are in the form of periodical or spot inspections of the activities, under the authority of the public Minister or the legal services general inspection department.

The professional rules for commercial Court clerks, approved by decree of the Garde des Sceaux, define and frame professional practices.
Among these professional rules may be noted the obligation for ongoing training that must be satisfied by the court clerks (yearly minimum of 20 hours).

The public legal service provided by the commercial Court clerks are entirely in line with the public authorities' general reform objectives. The tariff for each act (diligence) performed for persons subject to the law and for corporations, is set by law. The operating costs of a service acknowledged to be in the general interest is not borne by the State, and is uniformly applied throughout the country.

Status of the salaried court clerk
The law now allows court clerks to be employed by a physical person or legal entity who is titleholder of a commercial Court registry.

As a public officer appointed by the ministry, as well as by the Garde des Sceaux , the salaried court clerk may perform all the functions of a court clerk, tasked with assisting the commercial Court presiding judge.

To be a registry salaried worker
The registries are recruiting at all levels of competency and qualifications, to occupy posts with various requirements, from data entry clerk to hearing court clerk. A two-year internal training diploma course is organised by the National Council of commercial court clerks (CNGTC).

To be a 'commis greffier' (Court clerk)
Performing this function requires being invested with all or part of the powers of the holder of the office, and being sworn in before the court.