Contentieux de la fonction publique : attention à la rédaction des écritures !

Procès fait à un acte, le recours pour excès de pouvoir est dispensé du ministère d’avocat et, en particulier, pour ce qui concerne les agents de la fonction publique, le recours dirigé contre une décision affectant la situation individuelle d’un agent, titulaire ou contractuel.

Cette « facilité » offerte par le Code de justice administrative ne doit pas faire illusion en ce sens que si le recours à un avocat ne doit pas être systématique pour des litiges qui ne sont pas complexes sur le plan juridique, tout le monde ne peut pas s’improviser juriste en droit public. Car pour les personnes qui ne maîtrisent pas un tant soit peu le droit administratif et la procédure, agir sans avocat peut relever de l’inconscience.

Et qui plus est, le recours à un avocat est parfois nécessaire (spécialisé de préférence) – quel que soit le degré de difficulté de l’affaire – dans des dossiers où la distanciation est nécessaire. On pense par exemple aux sanctions disciplinaires infligées aux fonctionnaires hospitaliers. S’ils prennent l’initiative d’introduire et de rédiger eux-mêmes une requête, ils risquent quelque fois de s’appesantir sur des détails en perdant de vue l’essentiel.

Personnellement, il m’est arrivé de recevoir des requêtes rédigées de la main d’agents, et écrites de manière catastrophique (fautes d’orthographe déplorables, phrases sans verbe, tournures alambiquées, style ampoulé et laborieux, etc.). Apitoyer le juge administratif en lui adressant un recours brouillon s’avère être une entreprise rarement payante. Le juge statue en droit pas en équité, et spécialement le juge administratif pour qui l’application de la règle est un quasi sacerdoce.

Un recours qui, par exemple, se présente sous la forme d’une simple lettre où on raconte sa vie au lieu de décrire précisément – et presque froidement, faudrait-il dire – les faits, d’invoquer la ou les règle(s) applicable(s) et d’apporter les pièces nécessaires au succès des prétentions, ce recours là est voué à l’échec.

La partie adverse, si elle s’y connaît un peu ou si elle emploie un avocat, cherchera naturellement à soulever l’irrecevabilité de la requête. L’avocat, le cas échéant, brandira alors inévitablement – et il aura raison – l’article R. 411-1 du code de justice administrative. Il expliquera alors posément que les règles de présentation formelle de la requête introductive d’instance conditionnent la recevabilité du recours. Il exposera que le juge administratif ne peut être valablement saisi que d’une requête comportant l’exposé des faits de l’espèce et une motivation suffisante, le Conseil d’Etat n’admettant pas que soient simplement énoncées les dispositions de principe dont la violation est invoquée ((CE, 30 octobre 1970, Debois, Rec. p. 630, par ex.)).

Autre exemple : si un agent agit en contentieux indemnitaire et qu’il reçoit un jugement qui ne fait pas droit à sa demande et que, furieux et vindicatif, il a la bonne idée d’interjeter appel de ce jugement sans recourir à un avocat, le conseil de la partie adverse, lui, ne se privera pas de soulever l’irrecevabilité du recours en appel sur le fondement de l’article R. 431-2 du code de justice administrative.

Dès lors, on le voit, la procédure – qu’elle soit administrative, pénale ou civile – n’a pas été conçue comme un parcours d’embûches à éviter ou à enjamber, comme il est de bon ton de l’affirmer, mais comme une garantie et une protection du justiciable contre l’arbitraire, même si en définitive l’appel à un avocat représente un coût non négligeable qui en freine plus d’un. Encore que le système d’aide juridictionnelle, même s’il est largement perfectible, a le mérite d’exister. Mais ceci est un autre débat.

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