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France

Open Legal Resources (FR0015)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: France, First Action Plan, 2015-17

Action Plan Cycle: 2015

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Prime Minister’s Office; Ministry of the Economy, Industry and the Digital Sector; Ministry of State for State Reform and Simplification attached to the Prime Minister

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Legislation & Regulation, Open Data, Public Participation

IRM Review

IRM Report: France End-of-Term Report 2015-2017, France Mid-Term Progress Report 2015-2017

Starred: Yes Starred

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

STAKES
Understanding of law and access to justice are the pillars of the Rule of Law. In a digital era, this ambition is not restricted to diffusing content of the law but requires also accessibility to jurisprudence, the possibility for all citizens to develop innovative tools or services based on this content (thanks to its availability in open data), and the ability to stimulate and successfully mobilize citizens' expertise and contributions.

CONTEXT & AIM
France already has created in 2001 a major public service for the dissemination of law over the Internet. According to the terms of decree No. 2002-1064 dated on August 7th, 2002 amended, on the public service for the dissemination of law over the Internet, the site Légifrance is intended to facilitate public access to texts in force as well as to jurisprudence. It already provides free, universal access to all sources of law (legislative and regulatory texts, treaties, codes, jurisprudence of the Constitutional Council, the Council of State and the French Supreme Court, etc.). The open-data provision of legal data and data relating to a legal bill or its preparation allows citizens to better understand the entire legislative process, develop tools or applications from this data and participate actively in the democratic debate.
The opening of legal data is thus at the core of governmental action, with the open-data publication of the databases of the Legal and Administrative Information Department (DILA) of the Prime Minister’s Office, and the establishment of the "Open Law" program. This program has given rise to numerous innovative applications developed by start-ups, researchers and companies, which were then rewarded. The publication in open data of the Official Bulletin of Public Contract Declarations (BOAMP), the Civil and Commercial Announcements Official Bulletin (BODACC) and the Mandatory Legal Notices Official Bulletin (BALO) will complement this approach. 20 Lastly, the consultation of citizens on government bills or before their preparation enables the construction of effective public decisions may revitalizes democracy. When preparing the Digital Bill, the French Digital Council coordinated an online consultation over six months (see details and data in the "methodology" appendix). It demonstrated the extent and ability of administrations and civil society to commit to these processes.

ROADMAP
• Continue the open-data provision of legal and legislative resources that already exist - Continue the opening of legal data in reusable formats
• Continue the collaborative process with civil society for the production of innovative services and open source tools facilitating the understanding of texts and their preparation
• On the Digital Bill, continue the participative process in collaboration with civil society by opening the draft bill (“avant projet de loi”) to consultation for citizens to comment it and suggest amendments

IRM End of Term Status Summary

12. Further expand the opening of legal resources & the collaboration with civil society on opening the law

Commitment Text:

ROADMAP

· Continue the open-data provision of legal and legislative resources that already exist

 Continue the opening of legal data in reusable formats

· Continue the collaborative process with civil society for the production of innovative services and open source tools facilitating the understanding of texts and their preparation

· On the Digital Bill, continue the participative process in collaboration with civil society by opening the draft bill (“avant projet de loi”) to consultation for citizens to comment it and suggest amendments

Editorial Note: This is a partial version of the commitment text. For the full commitment text please see France's national action plan: https://bit.ly/2MTYhsR.

Responsible Institutions: Prime Minister's Office; Ministry of the Economy, Industry and the Digital Sector; Ministry of State for State Reform and Simplification attached to the Prime Minister

Supporting Institution(s): N/A

Start Date: Not Specified 

End Date: Not Specified

Commitment Aim

This commitment sought to publish legal information in open data and reusable formats and encourage the reuse of data through collaborative innovation and tools that facilitate the process and understanding of law-making. This commitment also aimed to experiment with increased citizen participation in law-making through the draft Digital Republic Bill, which has since been opened up to review by citizens via a digital platform. This changed method of law-making is unprecedented in France.

The opening of legal data in France started in 2014 with civil society projects such as “Manufacture of the Law” from the association Regards Citoyens, which allows citizens to follow the evolution of texts voted upon in Parliament.[Note83: Available at https://www.lafabriquedelaloi.fr/ (accessed 13 April 2018).] On the government side, the Directorate of Legal and Administrative Information (DILA) has opened all of its data as part of the open data policy announced after the 18 December 2013 meeting of the inter-ministerial Committee for the Modernisation of Public Action (CIMAP). At this meeting, the government made two important decisions: to set up the principle of free reuse of public data by stopping the creation of new royalties; and making certain data free, including those of the DILA.

Status

Midterm: Substantial

This commitment was substantially implemented by the midterm. Regarding open data provision of legal data, the DILA opened some case law data in September 2015, which is published on Légifrance on behalf of the State Council and the Court of Cassation. Under the Open Law Europa programme, DILA, the Open Law association, and their partners made several proposals on how to encourage reuse of this new information. The government also encouraged the development of open source tools. Created January 2015, Open Law is an innovation and digital co-creation project designed to encourage the opening up of data and resources on legislation, and to encourage collaborative innovation among public administrations, civil society organisations and the private sector. Open Law also coordinates the Legal Tech French community and innovative lawyers. Lastly, the public consultation on the Digital Republic Bill was opened on a dedicated platform, tracking changes to the text of the bill. Information received during the consultation was published on data.gouv.fr and a Digital Republic hackathon took place on 12 December 2015. The National Assembly passed the Digital Republic Bill into law in November 2016. A proposal was submitted in Parliament on 20 April 2016 to make online public consultations the norm for all bills before they go to Parliament. The proposal was inspired by the success of the Digital Bill consultation. For more information, please see the IRM midterm report.[Note84: Independent Reporting Mechanism, France Rapport D'ètape (OGP, 2017), https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/France_Progress-Report_2015-2017.pdf.]

End of Term: Substantial

At the end of the implementation period, this commitment is considered to be substantially completed. The government engaged in activities aiming to facilitate access to information, such as the adoption of the Digital Republic Law, and to encourage civic participation through new public consultations on bills. The Digital Republic Law is still not fully implemented, especially regarding opening judicial decisions, therefore the commitment is not considered to be fully completed.

In the second year of implementation, the Digital Republic Bill was adopted (November 2016) with two articles addressing access to judicial decisions. Articles 20 and 21 provide for open access to judicial decisions, within the limits of respect for people's privacy. Personal privacy a concern for State Secretary for Digital Affairs Axelle Lemaire, who was worried that analysing decisions for personal privacy issues would be an obstacle to open data.[Note85: NextImpact, Mise en Open Data des décisions de justice : un rapport attendu pour fin octobre (Sept. 2017), https://www.nextinpact.com/news/105283-mise-en-open-data-decisions-justice-rapport-attendu-pour-fin-octobre.htm. Moreover, regarding jurisprudential data, the government published a white paper in January 2017, formulising the results of the open caselaw programme. This paper[Note86: Available here: http://fr.calameo.com/read/005075651e5c75eb4e579 (accessed 1 Oct. 2017).] informed discussions on the implementation of the Digital Republic Law. A decree specifying the implementation of the opening of legal resources of the law has yet to be adopted.[Note87: Ministère de l'économie et des finances, La loi pour une République numérique (17 May 2017), https://www.economie.gouv.fr/republique-numerique (accessed 1 Oct. 2017).] Information from the Ministry of Justice, gathered by Xavier Berne, indicates that the implementation of these articles would need to be gradual and would most probably take several years.[Note88: NextImpact, Mise en Open Data des décisions de justice : un rapport attendu pour fin octobre. 

In May 2017, the new Minister of Justice commissioned a study on the implementation of Articles 20 and 21 of the Digital Republic Law by Loïc Cadiet, a law professor at La Sorbonne. Sorbonne worked with a member of the Council of State, a member of the Court of Cassation, a representative of the national bar association, a representative of the National Commission of Information and Liberties (CNIL), and representatives from various courts and administrative jurisdictions. The initial publication of the report was planned for the end of October 2017[Note89: La Gazette des communes, Où en est l'ouverture des données de jurisprudence ? (29 Sept. 2017), http://www.lagazettedescommunes.com/526366/ou-en-est-louverture-des-donnees-de-jurisprudence/ (accessed 1 Oct. 2017).] but has been rescheduled for the end of November 2017.[Note90: NextImpact. Le rapport sur la mise en Open Data des décisions de justice reporté à fin novembre (6 Nov. 2017), https://www.nextinpact.com/brief/le-rapport-sur-la-mise-en-open-data-des-decisions-de-justice-reporte-a-fin-novembre-1031.htm.]

Regarding open source tools, an OGP Open Toolbox, developed by Etalab, French civic tech groups, and international partners, was presented at the OGP Summit in December 2016. The association, OGPToolbox.org, was created in February 2017 to ensure the toolbox was implemented and used. In February 2017, the OGP Toolbox contained 1,230 tools. The responsibility for the toolbox was moved from the state to civil society. Stakeholders have indicated that the management of the toolbox has been put on hold for the moment.[Note91: Members of Démocratie ouverte and Open source politics, personal communication with IRM researcher, 27 Oct. and 1 Nov. 2017.] The objective of OGP Toolbox is to identify promising open source tools and to function as a repository. The association hopes to assist CSOs and public institutions worldwide in choosing the most appropriate advocacy and training tools to progressively open data and facilitate civic participation and public accountability. A board member of OGPToolbox stated that the association has helped setting up the cooperative Mednum,[Note92: More information available here: https://lamednum.coop/.] which specialises in digital mediation. OGP Toolbox will start soon a project assisting the Conférence d'Afrique Francophone sur les Données Ouvertes (CAFDO) in providing the coordinating organisation (to be announced) with the necessary digital tools and knowledge to promote open data in francophone Africa.[Note93: Board member OGP Toolbox, personal communication with IRM researcher, 9 Nov. 2017.]

Lastly, public consultations have been used to encourage the public to participate in law-making for a few additional bills since the pilot consultation on the Digital Republic Law. The government self-assessment lists the biodiversity and citizenship equality laws as examples. A synthesis report is available for the consultation on the equality and citizenship law.[Note94: Available here: https://www.egalite-citoyennete-participez.gouv.fr/media/default/0001/01/e758ede1b4919b5139ddb39e3eda5aacd82b522e.pdf (accessed 1 Oct. 2017).] The consultations are organised either through a dedicated website, as was the case for the Digital Republic Law, or through the organisation Parlement &Citoyens,[Note95: Available here: https://parlement-et-citoyens.fr/projects (accessed 1 Oct. 2017).] as was the case for the biodiversity law.

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Marginal

Civic Participation: Marginal

A number of developments have facilitated access to legal information. DILA has opened access to new legal information and an Open Law organisation was set up by Etalab, DILA and NUMA.[Note96: Company specialised in digital innovations.] The adoption of the Digital Republic Law also is a significant step toward creating a legal obligation to improve access to legal information. However, at the end of the action plan implementation period, the law has yet to be fully implemented and therefore, there remains no decree mandating the opening of judicial data.

At the outset of this commitment, its potential impact was assessed as transformative but the major concern for implementation of the commitment was that it relied heavily on the successful passage of the Digital Republic Bill, which had not happened by the midterm IRM report. The Bill was passed during the second year of implementation but in the interim nine months between the adoption of the Bill and the end of the action plan period, actual change in government practice in terms of access to information was marginal as the law is not yet fully implemented and faced privacy challenges in the Constitutional Court.

The government has taken several steps to collaborate with civil society, especially the civic tech community, and develop tools to facilitate public participation. The government held a number of public consultations on bills prior to parliamentary debates, which is a new government practice. The consultations, however, are still experimental and there is a need to institutionalise the process. Transparency International France recommends that a reference document and a standard methodology be developed for public online consultations,[Note97: Transparency International France (comment), “Engagement 12 : Poursuivre l'ouverture des ressources juridiques et la collaboration avec la société civile autour de l'élaboration de la loi | Rapport d'autoévaluation à mi-parcours du Plan d'action pour la France 2015-2017 “‘Pour une action publique transparente et collaborative'” (Etalab, July 2016), https://forum.etalab.gouv.fr/t/engagement-12-poursuivre-louverture-des-ressources-juridiques-et-la-collaboration-avec-la-societe-civile-autour-de-lelaboration-de-la-loi-rapport-dautoevaluation-a-mi-parcours-du-plan-daction-pour-la-france-2015-2017-pour-une-action-publique-transparente-et-collaborative/1914/2 (accessed 1 Oct. 2017).] which indicates that standardised methodology for consultations does not yet exist. The midterm IRM report and the government self-assessment refer to a proposal submitted to Parliament on 20 April 2016 to make online public consultations the norm for all bills before parliamentary debates. The proposal was forwarded to the Law Commission though at the time of writing this report, it does not seem to have been taken any further.[Note98: National Assembly, “Généralisation de la consultation publique en ligne, par l'internet, sur les textes de loi avant leur examen par le Parlement” (accessed 1 Oct. 2017), http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/14/dossiers/consultation_publique_textes.asp.

] As such, this commitment marginally opened government with respect to civic participation.

Carried Forward?

This commitment was not carried over to the next action plan.


Commitments

  1. Transparency of Public Services

    FR0030, 2018, E-Government

  2. Transparency of Public Procurement

    FR0031, 2018, E-Government

  3. Transparency of Development Aid

    FR0032, 2018, Aid

  4. Expand Open Data

    FR0033, 2018, E-Government

  5. Improved Data Policies and Administration

    FR0034, 2018, Capacity Building

  6. Transparency of Public Algorithms

    FR0035, 2018, E-Government

  7. Open Data at Sub-National Level

    FR0036, 2018, Capacity Building

  8. State AI Lab

    FR0037, 2018, Capacity Building

  9. Administrative Capacity-Building

    FR0038, 2018, Capacity Building

  10. Public Service Incubators

    FR0039, 2018, Capacity Building

  11. Streamline Data Flows

    FR0040, 2018, E-Government

  12. Open Etat Forum

    FR0041, 2018, E-Government

  13. Online Procedures Dashboard

    FR0042, 2018, E-Government

  14. Govtech Summit

    FR0043, 2018, Capacity Building

  15. Imrove Public Consultation Mechanisms

    FR0044, 2018, E-Government

  16. International Transparency and Citizen Participation

    FR0045, 2018, Aid

  17. Public Pariticipation in Sustainable Development

    FR0046, 2018, Capacity Building

  18. Open Science

    FR0047, 2018, E-Government

  19. Citizen Involvement in Cour Des Comptes

    FR0048, 2018, Capacity Building

  20. Private Sector Transparency

    FR0049, 2018, Asset Disclosure

  21. Access to Information on Public Officials

    FR0050, 2018, Asset Disclosure

  22. Open Regional and Local Authorities' Data

    FR0001, 2015, Fiscal Transparency

  23. Publish Municipal Council Decisions and Reports Online

    FR0002, 2015, E-Government

  24. Publish Building Permits in Open Data Format

    FR0003, 2015, Open Data

  25. Starred commitment Increase Transparency in Public Procurement

    FR0004, 2015, Open Contracting and Procurement

  26. Improve Transparency in International Development Aid

    FR0005, 2015, Aid

  27. Open Access to Public Policy Evaluations

    FR0006, 2015, E-Government

  28. Involve Citizens in Cour Des Comptes Work

    FR0007, 2015, Fiscal Transparency

  29. Access to Public Officials Transparency Obligations

    FR0008, 2015, E-Government

  30. Starred commitment Beneficial Ownership

    FR0009, 2015, Beneficial Ownership

  31. Transparency in Extractive Industries

    FR0010, 2015, Extractive Industries

  32. Transparency in International Trade Commercial Negotiations

    FR0011, 2015, Labor

  33. Fix My Neighborhood

    FR0012, 2015, E-Government

  34. Digital Fix-It

    FR0013, 2015, Open Data

  35. Co-Produce Data Infrastructure with Civil Society

    FR0014, 2015, Open Data

  36. Starred commitment Open Legal Resources

    FR0015, 2015, Legislation & Regulation

  37. Reform Participatory Mechanisms

    FR0016, 2015, Public Participation

  38. Mediation and Justice

    FR0017, 2015, Judiciary

  39. Starred commitment Open and Circulate Data

    FR0018, 2015, Land & Spatial Planning

  40. Open Calculation Models and Simulators

    FR0019, 2015, Open Data

  41. Open Platform for Government Resources

    FR0020, 2015, E-Government

  42. Improve Public Services Through E-Government and User Interaction

    FR0021, 2015, E-Government

  43. Empower Civil Society to Support Schools

    FR0022, 2015, E-Government

  44. Diversify Recruitment Within Public Institutions

    FR0023, 2015, Capacity Building

  45. Culture Change

    FR0024, 2015, Capacity Building

  46. Spread Public Innovation

    FR0025, 2015, Capacity Building

  47. Starred commitment Protect Against Conflicts of Interest

    FR0026, 2015, Conflicts of Interest

  48. Civil Society & Transparency in COP21 Conference Planning

    FR0027, 2015, Environment and Climate

  49. Open Data and Climate/Sustainable Development

    FR0028, 2015, Open Data

  50. Collaborate with Civil Society on Climate and Sustainable Development

    FR0029, 2015, Environment and Climate