Separate Chamber (chambre détachée) : the work is on track

Less than a month after the publication of the decree creating a separate chamber in Saint-Martin, the services of Christiane Taubira are in place to implement this new organization.

It was one of the announcements made by François Hollande during his visit on May 8, 2015: the creation of a separate chamber of the Basse-Terre Regional Court in Saint-Martin. An extremely important announcement for the territory - in the sense that the judiciary will have access to increased local resources.


A separate chamber is a part of a court that is located in another city, so that disputes are resolved in that city,” explains Marielle Thuau, Director of Judicial Services based in Paris. In other words, a part of the Basse-Terre Regional Court, which Saint-Martin depends on, will be moved here to Marigot. In concrete terms, certain proceedings, including family cases, will be completely resolved in Saint-Martin. No more need to go through Guadeloupe.


Saint-Martin currently has a courthouse already, but it does not have full autonomy, and proceedings and files pass through Basse-Terre. For example, someone initiating divorce proceedings must currently refer them to Basse-Terre; soon, this will be done locally. This guarantees gains in time (and energy).


Opening the separate chamber will also be accompanied by increased staffing, with notably an additional deputy -prosecutor, nine officials, and five new judges. This will allow for better organization and, particularly, more flexibility in correctional hearings, such as summary trials (comparutions immédiates or ST). The latter must be held in the presence of a Public Prosecutor and three judges, who each have very busy schedules and all of them are only available for an ST on Wednesdays. Because of this, if someone is arrested on the weekend and is subject to an ST, for example, they will be transferred to Guadeloupe. And then, if the trial does not take place, they must return to Saint-Martin by their own means. Soon, with the separate chamber, ST hearings will be set more often.


Note, however, that a separate chamber of the Regional Court is not authorized to carry out the duties of specialized judges (juvenile judges, investigating judges).


Another piece of good news is the restoration of the courthouse. According to an agreement, the French State and the Collectivité* exchanged two buildings: the former police station on rue de Concordia (behind the PAF premises) and the municipal library currently located just behind the courthouse. The Minister of Justice will then launch a large renovation plan (compliance with standards, offices, etc.) and calls for tenders in the next two to three months. The goal is to open in February 2017. And the Garde des Sceaux should come to inaugurate the chamber in person.



* Marielle Thuau, Director of Judicial Services, met this morning with the president, Aline Hanson, who confirmed this exchange deal. The library has been empty since the opening of the media center in Concordia.




Mickaël Ohayon, deputy prosecutor of Saint-Martin, Gérard Egron-Reverseau, president of the Saint-Martin District Court and (future) president of the separate chamber, Sylvie Hanoteaux, vice-president in charge of the Saint-Martin District Court, Marielle Thuau, Director of Judicial Services, and Samuel Finielz, prosecutor of Basse-Terre.

Estelle Gasnet