In civil, commercial, social or criminal cases, disputes are first referred to lower jurisdictions (courts and then appeal courts). Their decisions, made in the last instance, are subject to appeal to the Court of cassation.

It does not constitute a third level of jurisdiction after the courts and the appeal courts.

Essentially, it does not decide on the merits of disputes, but states whether, based on the facts which have been independently assessed in the decisions which are referred to it, the rules of law have been correctly applied.

The purpose of the appeal is thus to challenge a court decision, regarding which the Court of Cassation must state either that the rules of law have been correctly applied or that they have been applied erroneously.

In this case, the Court of cassation overturns the decision challenged and, in most cases, refers the examination of the merits of the case back to an appeal court or a court of first instance.

Before the civil chambers, the litigation takes approximately 14 months (between the filing of the appeal and the pronouncement of the Court of cassation’s decision).

Before the criminal chamber, the proceedings take approximately 11 months.

These are specialised lawyers who receive extremely extensive training both in private law and in public law which last three years and is attested to by a diploma and the certificate of aptitude for the profession of Avocat aux Conseils (Counsel at Senior Court). These  lawyers have a monopoly on representation before the Court of Cassation and the Conseil d’Etat .