The Department of Justice
The Department of JusticeSecretary of Justice - Director of Services : Ms Sylvie PETIT-LECLAIR
The “Direction des Services Judiciaires” is the Monegasque Department of Justice.
Governed by an Ordinance of 9 March 1918 - now governed by the Act No. 1.398 of 24 June 2013 pertaining to judicial administration and organisation - it constitutes an administration which is independent from the Prince’s Government and led by the Secretary of Justice.
The Secretary of Justice - administrative and judicial authority
The Secretary of Justice holds powers similar to those exercised by Ministers of Justice in other countries.
The Secretary of Justice ensures the proper administration of justice, for which he is responsible to the Prince only. In this regard, he has powers in the area of judicial administration comparable to those devolved to the Minister of State for the general administration of the country.
In accordance with the principle of a separation of powers such as is applied in Monaco, the Secretary of Justice does not sit in the Council of Government. Similarly, pursuant to Article 46 of the Constitution of 17 December 1962 (amended), the Sovereign Ordinances concerning the judicial services are not debated in the Council of Government, but are taken by the Prince based on reports submitted to him by the Secretary of Justice.
In order to exercise his administrative powers, he has the power to order decrees of a regulatory or individual nature under the conditions provided for by law. For example, the conditions governing the professional examination, which provides access to the legal profession, are laid down by directorial decree (Sovereign Ordinance no 8.089 of 17th September 1984, Articles 7 and 8). Similarly, there is also a decree on the recruitment of trainee court registrars (Act n° 1.228 of 10th July 2000, Article 15).
The Secretary of Justice is also required to make decisions which do not take the form of decrees, for example as part of managing the careers of civil servants under his authority. Their legality may be challenged before the Supreme Court.
Furthermore, he submits reports and proposals to the Prince regarding the nomination (and/or appointment), by Sovereign Ordinance, of all the judges, defending counsels, public notaries, bailiffs and civil servants employed by the Department of Justice. The same applies to approving their retirement or admission as an honorary member.
The Secretary of Justice also has supervisory and disciplinary authority over government civil servants working under his authority. In this regard he ensures that he fulfils his responsibilities under conditions similar to those governing their exercise by the Minister of State or the Heads of Service of the government administration, provided for by Act No 975 With regard to judges and prosecutors, disciplinary power is exercised by the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors as the Secretary of Justice becomes the prosecuting authority in this instance.
Lastly, pursuant to the provisions of Article 139, 2nd paragraph, of the Code of Civil Procedure, the Secretary of Justice ensures that the State is represented before the court in cases when the public authority is challenged due to the performance of justice.
The specific judicial responsibilities of the Secretary of Justice concern criminal matters in particular.
The Act no. 1.398 of 25 June 2013 (Article 26) provides that he manages public prosecutions – specifically criminal proceedings against alleged perpetrators of offences of any kind – but does not directly conduct them himself, nor can he stop or suspend them once they are underway. To this end, he has the authority to give instructions to officers in the Public Prosecution Department, principally the Public Prosecutor and his substitutes in the Public Prosecution Department. The Public Prosecutor is usually responsible for conducting these proceedings.
Furthermore, the Secretary of Justice may grant, by decree, conditional release to convicted offenders, in accordance with the conditions provided for by Sovereign Ordinance No 4.035 of 17 May 1968.
Lastly, his opinion may be sought by the Prince on any issue relating to justice. This is a joint responsibility with the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors.
Organisation and operation
The Department of Justice is responsible for the administration of the following services:
- The General Secretariat of the Department
- The Public Prosecution Department
- The Courts
- The General Court Registry
- The Prison Service
The General Secretariat is the service most often called upon to administer the judicial services, under the authority of the Secretary. It is led by a General Secretary who is responsible for supporting and assisting the Secretary of Justice in all matters relating to the administration of justice.
The General Secretariat also comprises supervisory staff and strategy personnel, secretarial staff, archivists, maintenance staff, and porters.
In practice, the General Secretariat manages the daily administration of justice: financial and budgetary issues, human resources and career development, building maintenance, post, protocol, etc.
Furthermore, the General Secretariat is also involved in managing the Monegasque naturalization procedures and fulfilling the responsibilities devolved to the Department of Justice as the central authority for the application of different conventions. To this end, the General Secretariat coordinates the administrative phase of international child adoptions and delivers the Hague apostilles.
NOTE: It goes without saying that the internal judicial management of courts (distribution of cases between the judges, calling cases for hearing, preparing cases for trial, listing office, deliberation, etc.) remains exclusively the responsibility of the Presidents of the courts and not of the Secretary of State.
- Constitution of the Principality
- Sovereign powers
- Executive powers
- The foundations of Monegasque justice and Monegasque Law
- The Supreme court
- The Department of Justice
- The Monegasque Institute for training in the legal professions
- The Remand Prison of Monaco
- The High Council of Judges and Prosecutors
- The Public Prosecution Department
- The Justice of the Peace
- The Court of First Instance
- Specialised Courts and Judges
- The Court of Appeal
- The Court of Revision
- The Criminal Court
- The General Court Registry
- The Officers of the Law
- Legal aid
- Assemblies and constitutional bodies