Article 15-1 of the international agreement related to civil and political rights, setting the principle of the immediate application of the less severe penalty does not only concern penalties applied by repressive jurisdictions but is extended to any sanction considered as a penalty. Thus it applies to penalties for abuse of law which have the same characteristics as particularly severe sanctions, the aim of which is both dissuasive and repressive.

As a consequence, the increase of 80% provided by article 2-III or the law dated July 8, 1987 (French General Tax Code, article 1729-1) which is in force at the time when the judge gives a verdict, must be substituted for the 200% increase, provided by the previous article 1732 of the French General Tax Code which is in force on December 31 of the year of taxation, imposed by the Tax Authorities. (TA Strasbourg, December 8, 1994).

This decision is interesting since it is the first one, which, giving a tax verdict, implements the general principal of immediate application of less severe penalties, and which recognizes at the same time the "penal" nature of tax sanctions.

It is to be noted that a recent decision of the Administrative Court of Appeal of Lyon did not apply this solution.

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