Raulin v Fischer

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtKing's Bench Division

Foreign Judgment - Criminal Prosecution for Negligence - “Partie Civile” - Award of Damages, when enforceable here.

By the French law, where an offender is prosecuted for a crime, a person who was injured by the crime may intervene in the prosecution and put in a claim for damages, which claim is tried along with the criminal charge, and upon conviction punishment for the offence and damages for the injury may be awarded by the same judgment:—

Held, that in such a case the judgment is severable, and that the portion of it awarding damages to the injured person is not within the rule of international law which prohibits Courts of justice from executing the penal judgments of a foreign Court, but may be enforced by action in this country.

TRIAL before Hamilton J. without a jury.

The defendant, an American lady, while recklessly galloping her horse in the Avenue du Bois de Boulogne in Paris ran into the plaintiff, a French officer, and seriously injured him. For her act of criminal negligence in so riding the defendant was prosecuted at the instance of the Procureur de la République before the Civil Court of First Instance of the Department of the Seine sitting as a correctional tribunal, under art. 320 of the Penal Code. By the provisions of the Code d'Instruction Criminelle a person who is injured by a criminal act may intervene in the prosecution (action publique) and put in a claim for damages, whereupon his claim (action civiler) is tried along with the action publique and one judgment is pronounced on both.F1 The plaintiff, M. Raulin, intervened in the prosecution and claimed damages. At the hearing on December 1, 1909, the defendant, who did not appear, was convicted and was sentenced to one month's imprisonment and a fine of 100 francs. On the claim for damages, the Court, not having sufficient evidence before it as to the extent of the injury, made an order for the examination of the plaintiff by an expert, and in the meantime made a provisional award of 5000 francs damages. The defendant then appeared by counsel and applied to have the conviction and judgment set aside. The application was heard on March 9, 1910, when the judgment was confirmed except so far as it ordered a month's imprisonment. Subsequently the expert made his report to the Court as to the extent of the plaintiff's injury, and thereupon the Court ordered the defendant to pay to the plaintiff as damages the sum of 15,000 francs, including the provisional sum of 5000 francs previously allowed, and 917 francs for costs. It was a term of the order that it should be enforced if necessary by the imprisonment of the defendant. Upon that judgment the present action was brought to recover the sum of 636l. 13s. 6d., being the equivalent in English money of the 15,917 francs so ordered to be paid.

Schiller, for the plaintiff. The judgment of the French Court so far as it awarded damages to the plaintiff was a civil and not a penal judgment, and therefore it may be enforced here. By art. 3 of the Code d'Instruction Criminelle the party injured by a criminal act has an election whether he will have his claim for damages tried before the same judges who are entertaining the criminal action, or whether he will bring a separate action before a purely civil Court. But the choice of the former alternative does not make his claim and the judgment pronounced on it any the less a civil one. Even where the order imposing a fine and the award of damages are pronounced at the same time, the judgment is really twofold, part of it being penal and part civil. In Piggott on Foreign Judgments, 3rd ed., part i., p. 90, this very point is dealt with, and it is said, “By French law civil proceedings for the tort are allowed to be tacked on to criminal proceedings for the offence, the person injured being termed the tiers parti, and damages may be awarded. This would seem to be a civil judgment recognizable in England in...

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