The arduous indemnification of France’s Jews

Published 24 June 2015

The Decree n° 99-778 of September 10th 1999 established a commission for the indemnification of victims of dispossessions caused by anti-Semitic legislation enforced in France from 1940 to 1944.

This commission - the C.I.V.S. - is an ad hoc body whose services are attached to those of the Prime Minister. The CIVS exercises investigative powers and issues an advisory indemnification recommendation.

These recommendations, issuing decisions on claims introduced by petitioners who are direct victims or heirs of direct victims of acts of dispossession, can be contested by the way of an ordinary appeal before Administrative Tribunals and Administrative Courts of Appeal when necessary.

The last recourse can be exercised by lodging a writ before the Conseil d’Etat, the French Supreme Administrative Court.

The scope of indemnification has widened over the years.

At it’s beginning, the CIVS only indemnified “material” goods. Over the years it had to admit that indemnification must be extended to “immaterial” goods: goodwill, leaseholds, clientele or patient valuation. Sums awarded sometimes amount to hundreds of thousands of euros.

In the perspective of seeing the entire damage repaired or indemnified, several claims have recently developed indemnification claims petitioning for the recognition of “loss of income”, “loss of earnings”, “dividend loss” or “revenue loss”.

On February 17th 2014, the Administrative Court of Appeals of Paris handed down a decision by which it allocated claimants indemnification for the damages suffered by revenue loss provoked by the dispossession of a commercial enterprise.

This step forward in jurisprudence was unfortunately short lived.

On March 27th 2015, the Conseil d’Etat handed down a ruling by which it condemns the position adopted by the Administrative Court of Appeals and annuls the decision issued on February 17th 2014. 

According to the Conseil d’Etat “(…) as far as a company is concerned, indemnification must allow reparation of its definitive loss, by taking into account the entirety of corporal and incorporeal elements, loss of revenue linked to the impossibility of exploitation cannot be assimilated to a dispossession of an indemnifiable good (…)”.

The Decree n° 99-778 of September 10th 1999 provides for “(…) the indemnification of damages consecutive to dispossessions of goods permitted by the enforcement of anti-Semitic legislation adopted during the Occupation, as much by the occupant as by the authorities of Vichy.”

The Conseil d’Etat, by its decision handed down on March 27th 2015, considers that loss of income, caused by the dispossession of a business facilitated by the enforcement of anti-Semitic legislations, is not an indemnifiable damage.    

Alexander ROTH

Lawyer rothpartners