Mediapart, Reflets: the obligation of contradictory procedures

On different grounds, the online investigative media Reflets and Mediapart have had to suspend investigative publications in recent days following court decisions taken in emergency proceedings. Both have filed lawsuits. Chance of the calendar, the decisions of the court of appeal of the commercial court of Versailles for Reflets and of the judicial court of Paris for Mediapart were expected this Wednesday, November 30.

“Justice retracts the order which prohibited us from publishing our investigation into the political methods of Gaël Perdriau”announced at 3:10 p.m. on Twitter Mediapart, making public, “after 12 days of censorship”, the investigation into a slander by the mayor of Saint-Étienne targeting Laurent Wauquiez. The latter immediately tweeted that he would attack the elected representative of Saint-Etienne for defamation. “It is not for the court to check beforehand information that has not been published”pleaded Mediapart’s lawyer, Emmanuel Tordjman, during the November 25 hearing.

“Indiscriminate prior censorship”

This case echoes the order taken on September 27 by the Commercial Court of Nanterre to prohibit the continuation of investigations of reflections concerning the industrialist Patrick Drahi under the law on business secrecy. A “preventive ban, without time limit, nor precision on the contents, nor possible sanctions”for their lawyer Lorraine Gay, who talks about “indiscriminate prior censorship”. The news site learned this afternoon that the decision concerning him was postponed until January 19, 2023.

In both cases, notes Reflets on its site, “prior censorship” has been applied “by judges at the request of the same lawyer”, Christophe Ingrain. The latter had also summoned Radio France before the Paris court to order it to remove, under penalty of €1,500 per day of delay, the podcast entitled “Altice, a major hack”.

What links the two cases

“We have press rightsreminds master Anne-Marie Pecorarospecialist in press law. If you complain about press content, you must legally not only use procedures relating to general measures, such as the secrecy of business law for Reflets, or the protection of supposed privacy in the case of Mediapart, but we must apply the law of the press. »

In these two cases, specifies the lawyer, the seized jurisdictions “exempted from following the specific law provided for this purpose, which specific law would have led to contradictory proceedings”. It also led to a “violation of the founding principles of freedom of expression and information because, in the different areas of law, there is a balance between principles that can oppose”, according to her. For example, the civil and criminal codes protect privacy and prohibit the recording of a person without their knowledge in a private setting, but press law may prevail.

A new law needed?

In response to the procedure used to ban Mediapart publications, the centrist senator Nathalie Goulet tabled a bill on November 22. It contains a single article aimed at supplementing the law of 29 July 1881 on the freedom of the press, which establishes that“a publication can only be prohibited in application of a judicial decision handed down by both sides”.

The text received the support of the president of the culture commission Laurent Lafon (centrist). “We cannot leave the situation as it is and not protect the press more”he declared, considering that the order on request (non-adversarial emergency procedure) issued by the Paris court “calls into question one of the fundamental freedoms, the freedom of the press”.

“Until now, the obligation to contradict each other seemed obvious to everyone, note master Anne-Marie Pecoraro. In theory, there should be no need for a new text. But given the regrettable discrepancy observed in the way of approaching these cases, it becomes desirable to write it more clearly to avoid decisions like these. »

Source : BBN NEWS

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