The lawyers are mobilizing against article 3 of the bill “confidence in the judicial institution” which would threaten, according to them, the integrity of their professional secrecy. They were a hundred this Tuesday afternoon to protest a few steps from the National Assembly.
The black dresses are crowded on the pretty place Édouard-Herriot, in Paris, which adjoins the National Assembly. Banners are unrolled: a wise turquoise and white “Paris Bar” on a black background, a more vindictive “Angry Hauts-de-Seine lawyers”. The “Black Robe Brigade”, a group of lawyers with a slightly ironic spirit, committed against attacks on public freedoms, brandishes its Jolly Roger, this black pirate flag adorned with a skull. Above the crackling of a red smoke, they chant in chorus: “without secrecy, no trust, without secrecy, neither counsel nor defence”. Because that’s what it’s all about, this Tuesday afternoon, near the Palais Bourbon.
A hundred defenders gathered in courtroom garb to denounce article 3 of the bill “trust in the judicial institution” which, in their view, threatens the integrity of their professional secrecy. The measure, which aimed to enshrine professional secrecy, includes exceptions in cases of tax evasion, corruption or financing of terrorism, when the lawyer practices in his capacity as counsel and not in defence. A second paragraph provides for another exception to professional secrecy, again during his advisory activity, when the lawyer “subject to maneuvers” to allow an infringement.
“Parliamentarians and public opinion must understand the crucial importance of the confidentiality of exchanges between a lawyer and his client.insists Julie Couturier, designated president of the Paris Bar. In this society of hyper-transparency, secrecy is considered pejorative. But it is the pillar of our democracy, it is essential that litigants can freely confide in their lawyers. The president of Paris, Olivier Cousi, abounds: “Professional secrecy is the cornerstone of our business. To have the confidence of our customers, they must be able to count on our confidentiality”. “This secrecy, it must be understood that it benefits the litigants, not the lawyers”, summarizes David Van der Vlist, of the Syndicate of Lawyers of France.
“The fight will continue”
Two days after the ultimatum sent on Friday by the Minister of Justice, Éric Dupond-Moretti, urging the profession to make proposals, the National Bar Council, which represents 70,000 lawyers, adopted by 51 votes out of 82 the outright suppression and simple of the controversial section of the bill. The ace. During the rally, the Minister of Justice announced that the government was preparing to table a new amendment and thus refused to follow the wishes of the profession. It aims to “delete paragraph 2, and to confirm the possibility of the presence of the President of the Bar during the search”, the Chancellery told AFP. But not the entirety of article 3, therefore.
Clinging to his bike adorned with a flag in the colors of his union, David Van der Vlist details his concern: “This is a huge attack on our freedoms. We start by integrating exceptions for tax evasion, corruption, and then what? We are paving the way to extend it to other types of offenses and to further weaken professional secrecy.. Like him, many of them assure that they will remain mobilized “until the end”. “A lawyer is always afraid of not being heard”slips Emmanuel Mercinier, Parisian criminal lawyer. “The law is the law and the judgeshe underlines, serious look, sour smile. First, we will try to be heard by the legislator. Then, if the law is passed, the fight will continue in front of the judges.. Determined, the profession must gather again on Wednesday. This time, in front of the Luxembourg Palace, before the vote of the Senators scheduled for Thursday morning.
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