Every taxpayer is entitled to have an open and oral debate with the tax administration during a tax audit. As for the Research Tax Credit (RTC), the tax administration can ask for a scientific expertise from the French Ministry of Research. During this expertise, the agents from the French Ministry of Research are not required to initiate an open and oral debate with the taxpayer, though they can decide to do so. Caselaw has already confirmed several times this position (especially: December 21th 2000, n°221006, 8th and 3rd ss min, case-law v/Sté Labesque).
However it is the first time that such matter has been brought before the French Administrative Supreme Court from a constitutional point of view. Unlike a tax audit by the administration, the expertise by the agents of the French Ministry of Research does not trigger penalties, and the administration is not bound by their conclusions. As a consequence the French Administrative Supreme Court concludes that the lack of obligation to initiate an open and oral debate during an audit by an agent of the French Ministry of Research does not infringe on the right of defense and to a fair trial.