Posted on Nov 15, 2021, 12:58 PM
The representatives of the lawyers voted. With 51 votes out of 82, they demanded the withdrawal of the article on professional secrecy in the bill of confidence in justice. “The legal insecurity of the text has led the majority of the members of the National Bar Council to think that it was preferable to delete the article,” Jérôme Gavaudan, the president of this body, told “Echos”.
Friday, while the lawyers had been standing up against this text for three weeks, the Minister of Justice, Eric Dupond-Moretti, had issued them an ultimatum. He had offered them three choices: either a marginal amendment, or to keep the text as it was, or to delete it properly. They had until Monday to decide. What they did.
This highly contested text was itself the result of a compromise between deputies and senators meeting in a Joint Joint Committee on October 21. The parliamentarians had agreed that the protection of exchanges between a lawyer and his client, both in terms of defense and advice, be incorporated into the Code of Criminal Procedures. With the sole exception of three offenses – for advice: tax evasion, corruption or the financing of terrorism.
Until now, professional secrecy in matters of advice fell within the scope of a case law which was unfavorable to it. The text adopted by parliamentarians at the end of October presented an extension of professional secrecy, but not sufficient and not clear enough for the profession.
What will the minister do now that the lawyers have taken a position? The latter did not make it clear whether or not he was going to follow them. However, modifying a compromise found between deputies and senators in a joint committee is an exceptional procedure. Only the government can do it, provided that the amendment is voted in the same terms during the final reading of the text at the Palais-Bourbon on Tuesday and in the Senate on Thursday. His decision will not be delayed any longer because if the article is amended or deleted, it must be this Monday.
Earlier in the morning, the minister had taken another step towards the lawyers and had promised them to include in the article the presence of the President of the Bar during the searches. This was not enough to convince them not to vote for withdrawing the article.