Publié 28/02/2024|Modifié 18/01/2024

Bringing civil proceedings

Bringing civil proceedings will give you access to the original investigation file

In complicated cases and mandatory in criminal cases, the French prosecutor’s office orders an investigating magistrate to open a judicial investigation. You can bring civil proceedings to be kept informed of the case’s progress, gain access to all evidence in the case or solicit investigatory actions.
Civil proceedings may be brought at any time during the procedure, from the filing of the criminal complaint and up to the hearing.
In terrorism cases, investigations are carried out under the authority of the Paris Prosecutor’s Office, which has established a “terrorism and attacks against homeland safety" section. For the investigation, terrorism cases are handled by a corps of specialized magistrates. A felony trial court, a/k/a Assises Court, has the jurisdiction to hear terrorism crimes. It is composed of professional magistrates to limit the impact of pressure or threats that could weigh on juries.
To bring civil proceedings, you must write a letter to the magistrate charged with investigating the case at the following address:


  • Parvis du Tribunal de Paris
  • 75859 PARIS CEDEX 17
  • FRANCE  
Your dated and signed letter should include:
  • the case number;
  • your full identity;
  • the mailing address where you want to receive letter correspondence, as you can use your home address or your lawyers, provided you have his/her agreement;
  • if you have lost a loved one in a terrorist attack, any supporting documentation to justify your relationship to the victim;
  • a declaration clearly indicating that you wish to bring civil proceedings in the case;
  • the name of the lawyer that you want to appoint to represent you in the case or a request to benefit from the assistance of an attorney. In criminal proceedings for terrorism, attorney fees are covered by legal aid regardless of income. You must file a request for legal aid at the Legal Aid Office of the Paris High Court. The lawyer will assist you throughout the procedure. He/she will have access to the investigatory case file.
If the magistrate accepts your bringing civil procedure, you will receive a victim notice informing you notably of the date and time of the hearing.


A medical certificate is required to establish physical and/or psychological violence. The investigation service or the magistrate responsible for the case will ask you see a medical examiner. Specialist medical examiners will examine the reality, nature, origin, severity and the likely consequences of your injury and its possible legal incidence.
Medical examiner (a/k/a forensic pathologist) units are generally found inside hospitals. These specific premises can provide a thorough medical check-up and social follow up in conjunction with the hospital's social services and victim aid organizations.
Notice : To assess bodily injury, expert doctors use the legal notion of total work incapacity (ITT — Incapacité Totale de Travail).This is the time during which the victim is incapacitated and unable to perform everyday actions.It does not correspond in any way to sick leave from work. It is thus possible to determine an ITT for a child, a retired person or an unemployed person. It is needed to evaluate the victim's prejudice from a legal standpoint.
ITT should not be confused with IPP (Incapacité Permanente Partielle), which is the French acronym for Permanent Partial Incapacity. IPP is a residual physical or psychological disability that affects the victim and can only be assessed after the partial recovery date, the date set by expert doctors when further deterioration or improvement in the health of the victim is no longer possible.