43 members, including:
- on the one hand, the President, the Vice-President, the presidents of the chambers, the presidents of the sections and the councillors of State.
- on the other hand, the "Commissaires du Gouvernement" (Government Commissioner) and "Commissaires du Gouvernement adjoints" (Deputy Government Commissioner).
The composition of the Council of State can be modified when the Council exercises its consultative competences. At that occasion, councillors in extraordinary mission may be added.
The magistrates are subject to the legal status of the judicature. The magistrate's function is incompatible with any electoral mandate, either local or national, and with the exercise of any public or lucrative private function. The magistrates are not allowed to join any political association. They cannot participate in any action which may stop or be an obstacle to the good administration of Justice.
When operating as judge, the Council of State is divided into chambers which may be subdivided into sections. Usually, the Council sits in chambers or sections to give a ruling on the matters it is referred to. However, in certain cases, all chambers may sit together, especially when the decision which might be taken could cause a sudden change in the case law.
When exercising its advisory functions, the Council of State meets and deliberates in the General Assembly or in the Permanent Commission. The General Assembly decides about the bills proposed by the Government. It is chaired by the President of the Council of State. The examination of the governmental bills by the Permanent Commission takes place in exceptional cases when an emergency is declared by the head of the Government.
The Council of State works out every year a general report which is sent to the President of the Republic. It contains an appreciation of the quality of the judgments of the administrative jurisdictions that have been submitted to the Council, and includes a summary of the Council's activities. Besides, the Council also contributes to the publishing of various legal commentaries and studies.
The Council of State hears in first and last instance actions for annulment of by-laws or individual decisions issued by central administrative authorities, national public institutions or national professional organizations. The Council is also competent to interpret and appreciate the legality of the acts for which he may be seized in first and last instance.
The Council of State is competent in appeal to control the judgments pronounced in first instance by the administrative tribunals in every matter for which the law does not provide the contrary.
The Council is competent to hear the petitions for cassation of judgments rendered in last instance by administrative jurisdictions and especially by the Audit Office.
In principle, a dispute in administrative matter is subject to the jurisdiction of the administrative tribunals. Their number and territorial competence are determined by decree. The rules of proceedings before the administrative tribunals are defined by the Code of Civil Procedure. Except the cases where the law decides otherwise, the judgments may be challenged in appeal before the Council of State. The administrative tribunals are organized by chambers which can be subdivided into sections.
The Council of State judges actions ultra vires (recours pour excès de pouvoir). He is judge of appeal, judge of cassation, he judges the rulings of the administrative bodies with a jurisdictional nature. He also adjudicates cases involoving indirect taxes. The Council may give injunctions in case of a very serious irregularity (voie de fait) and of illegal expropriations, but he cannot impose a fine (astreinte) upon the administration.
The Council of State gives its opinion on the governmental bills which are submitted to it and may propose any amendment which it thinks necessary.
The Council of State has succeeded the administrative chamber of the Supreme Court since the organic law of 30th May 1998 on the jurisdiction, organization and functioning of the Council of State.
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