On February 21th 2008, the Court found a violation of article 6-1 of the Convention in judgment Ravon and others v. France (18497/03) on the ground that the applicants couldn’t appeal the tribunal order of searches of their offices and their home. The searches in Marseilles and Paris were at the request of the tax administration (art.L16B of book of tax procedure). The applicants were advised by Me Delphine Ravon (Paris).

On August 4th 2008,  article 164 of law 2008-776 modified article L16B and introduced the right to appeal the tribunal order to the president of the appeal court. This right is extended retroactively to almost all tax searches carried since January 1st 2005 even though an appeal to the supreme court was rejected.

According to Me Delphine Ravon (see below), the right to appeal was applied retroactively to prevent tax cases to be dismissed by the administrative tribunals, saving the French government €1.3 billion (years 2006-2007). She believed that this measure will provoke further violations of article 1 of protocol 1 and article 6-1 of the Convention and complained that it is not possible for citizens and companies to reach the judge during the searches.

In fact, the Court strike out cases SAS Arcalia (33088/08), Naco Trading v. France (29377/08) and found inadmissible cases Sarl Comptoir Aixois des Viandes (19863/08), Provitel (29437/08) and Etoc v. France (40954/08) on the ground that the right of appeal was available.. after they filed their cases at the Court. The Court rejected the allegations of the applicants (Provitel v. France (29437/08)) that the appeal is not effective and affirmed that the effectiveness of this new remedy can’t be judged on the first 6 months of its case-law.

Furthermore, the supreme court (Cour de cassation) will have to rule again on cases it had previously rejected and it raises the issue of the impartiality and the composition of the supreme court to respect article 6-1 of the Convention.

The case is still under review by the Committee of Ministers under standard supervision.

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