What does the “Confidence in Justice” bill contain?
Adopted at first reading in May 2021, the bill “for confidence in the judicial institution” carried by the Keeper of the Seals Éric Dupond-Moretti includes a range of measures ranging from investigation to detention. This text of 66 articles includes in particular a section on the professional secrecy of lawyers with their clients, included in article 3 of the reform.
The first version of the text planned to integrate into the Code of Criminal Procedures the protection of exchanges between a lawyer and his client, both in terms of defense and advice, without excluding a particular situation or area.
But following a joint joint committee meeting last September and following the concerns expressed by the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office, the deputies and senators finally agreed to add exceptions to this professional secrecy, particularly in tax matters.
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Thus, in the last modification of the text by the parliamentarians, professional secrecy is no longer opposable to measures of investigation or instruction in the event of financial offenses (corruption, money laundering, tax evasion, financing of terrorism …) and as soon as the lawyer “is the subject of maneuvers or actions for the purpose of allowing, in an unintentional manner, the commission or the continuation or the concealment of an offence”. In other words, if the lawyer is an accomplice even without his knowledge, the secret no longer holds. A presumption of guilt, which set fire to the powder within the bars.
What has been done?
Throughout France, mobilizations of lawyers have taken place to express their concern about the uncertainty that reigns around the guarantee of professional secrecy, even going so far as to propose their own version of the text to the Ministry of Justice.
Faced with the sling, Éric Dupond-Moretti invited this Friday, November 12 the National Bar Council to choose between three options: either a marginal amendment to remove certain ambiguities, or maintaining the text as it is, or a deletion in good and due form. The lawyers’ representatives therefore voted by 51 votes out of 82 on Monday for the outright withdrawal of Article 3, pleading in an interview with echoes“the legal insecurity of the text”. An option, very different from the amendment proposed by the Keeper of the Seals. Indeed, to calm things down, Éric Dupond-Moretti was in favor of deleting the paragraph concerning the hypothesis of a manipulated lawyer, accomplice of his client without his knowledge. The deputies thus lined up behind him, adopting his amendment late Tuesday night before voting the bill by 66 votes to 11.
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