The judicial system on Wallis and Futuna has been thrown into disarray over an administrative oversight.
The issue came to light in a homicide trial in New Caledonia where it was established that the prosecutor on Wallis and Futuna had no legal power to act.
Media reports said a 1983 law change had transferred some judicial powers from Noumea to Paris, meaning that the current office holder was not properly appointed.
The prosecutor was not as required by law put in place on the basis of a decree by the French president but still according to the system installed in 1928.
There was a suggestion that as a result all prosecutions launched in Wallis and Futuna since 1983 are open to a challenge.
It also raised questions about the status of a major tax fraud case in Wallis.