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French parliament passes law giving citizens the 'right to make mistakes'

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The law is part of reforms Emmanuel Macron touted during his successful presidential election campaign to allow citizens to make a mistake in good faith in their dealings with the authorities without risking punishment from the first infringement. It will be up to the administration to prove that the person was acting in bad faith.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/24/french-parliament-passes-law-giving-citizens-the-right-to-make-mistakes

What do I make of this? In principal I can see the value in this. In practice I can see exploitation and division. Already social media is awash with nationalistic talk of ‘immigrants’ taking advantage. 

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 At the opening of debate, the minister said the government had listened to “the French who like their public services but not their administration”, citing a letter of grievances sent him by one “Alexandre”.

Lawmakers will have to consider dozens of further articles in the bill on the extent of the right to make mistakes.

The right to err will not apply in a number of cases, such as public health.

Considered a “catch-all” by some officials, the bill deals with subjects as diverse as modifying procedures for obtaining a permit for the installation of wind farms at sea or the possibility of making donations to churches by SMS.

I’ll be interested to see how this will be ‘gamed’ by some and whether the government choose to learn from it ... bastardiss it ...  or scrap it. In the UK this would certainly prove useful in disputes with councils over parking fees, unfair speeding tickets and HMRC. However; I don’t believe the Tory government is ready or even transparent enough to be so bold. 

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Interesting. Makes sense in theory, hard to see how it will work in practice though, considering that the intent of "making a mistake" is hard to determine case by case.

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Isn't malicious intent already worked into a lot of legislature anyway? That's why there's a difference between manslaughter and murder.

It could be beneficial for situations where the law is unclear and citizens could break it unknowingly, something that should normally be resolved by leniency on the police's behalf.

It's funny that a lot of people assume this will benefit migrants. My first thought was politicians who are guilty of fraud or nepotism and defend themselves by saying they "acted with a clear conscience".

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6 minutes ago, Panflute said:

Isn't malicious intent already worked into a lot of legislature anyway? That's why there's a difference between manslaughter and murder.

I think this one is more about civil than criminal law though, e.g. making a mistake in your tax declaration that would not be punished once discovered if it was not done on purpose as opposed to automatic penalty for submitting incorrect declaration.

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It's reasonable I guess but my instinct is that it would be better where possible to simplify bureaucracy than to relax standards. 

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