Law No.1.534 of 9 December 2022: assisted witness, investigation, appeal for review in criminal matters, offences committed by legal persons
Law No. 1.534 of 9 December 2022 amending certain provisions of the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure relating to the investigation and appeal for review in criminal matters (JDM no. 8621 of 16 December 2022) stems from Bill no. 1031 received by the Parliament on 9 April 2021 and voted on during the Public Session of 30 November 2022.
Purpose of the reform:
Law No. 1.534 aims to “ensure a high level of security” in the Principality of Monaco, “the exercise of effective justice and the protection of the rights and freedoms of individuals” (Legislation Committee, Report on Bill No. 1031, p. 3).
Its main purpose is to reform the pre-trial procedure (almost all of the law’s provisions are devoted to this) in the light of the guarantees afforded to the accused under the European Convention on Human Rights. Furthermore, it modernises the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure concerning the appeal for review, creates the status of assisted witness, organises the presence of the lawyer during the first appearance examination, inserts special provisions applicable to the prosecution, investigation and judgement of offences committed by legal persons.
The text originates from the work of the Commission for the updating of the Codes ("Commission de mise à jour des Codes" approved by Sovereign Decision of 26 May 1954, instituted on the proposal of the Director of Judicial Services and composed of magistrates, representatives of the Monaco Bar Association, the Parliament and the Government, as well as Associate Professors of law faculties).
This reform is in line with Law no. 1. 200 of 13 January 1998 amending the provisions relating to the investigation, which had already introduced a first series of reforms focusing on respect for the rights of the defence and the adversarial principle: right to the assistance of a lawyer; right of access to the file; right to interpretation and translation of documents essential to the exercise of the defence; right to information on the nature of the facts; right for the accused during the first appearance interrogation to make statements or to remain silent; right of the parties to request investigative acts, to submit motions for nullity; presence of a clerk who assists the investigating judge in all acts of written information.
Entry into force:
The entry into force of Law No. 1.534 is set for 1 May 2023.
However, its transitional provisions regulate the application of its provisions on a case-by-case basis (ongoing investigations, proceedings, etc.).
The notable contributions of Law No. 1.534 are the following:
• Creation of the status of assisted witness (témoin assisté);
• Organisation of the presence of the lawyer during the first appearance examination ‘interrogatoire de première comparution);
• Strengthening of the adversarial process and interaction between the investigating judge, the civil parties and the defendants;
• Stricter supervision of searches carried out at the homes /place of work of persons who are granted specific protection because of their professional activity;
• Possibility for the investigating judge to use geolocation in the Principality;
• Time limit within which a request for nullity may be made by the accused, the witness or the victim;
• Insertion of specific procedures applicable to the prosecution, investigation and judgment of offences committed by legal persons;
• Adaptations made to the appeal for review (pourvoi en révision) with regard to equality of arms.
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