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French avocats (similar to barristers) have won an important battle in defence of client confidentiality. Readers who wish to discuss their money laundering with their lawyers can now do so without the risk of instant betrayal to the police.

The Conseil d’État, the highest administrative court, has removed two sections from a law passed in 2004 under which avocats who had the slightest suspicion, at the time of consultation, that their clients were guilty of money laundering, had to denounce them to the authorities, without notifying the clients.

The court also ruled that if the authorities wish to question avocats about their relations with clients, they must apply to the bâtonnier, the head of the local bar. He or she will then decide whether there is a risk of breaching the confidentiality of the client-adviser relationship.

Bearing in mind that the bâtonnier is elected by his peers, this is a generous dispensation. A further effect of the decision may be to nullify the European commission Directive 3, which ruled that, after denouncing a client, the avocat has to continue representing them without informing them of the denunciation.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008 by French News

|||Lawyers win right to silence
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