- Professional ethics
1. PROFESSIONAL ETHICS
Relations between lawyers and third parties revolve around three fundamental principles: independence, loyalty and professional secrecy.
The duty of independence requires your lawyer to advise you and to represent you freely, without being guided by any other concern than your legitimate interests and justice. This duty of independence is imposed both with regard to third parties (political or legal powers) and to you, if your interests or those of justice so command.
Independence is a fundamental condition for the performance of the lawyer’s tasks. It underlies the confidence which is the basis of your relations with him.
Professional ethics maintain that independence, particularly by forbidding the lawyer from carrying on another paid activity (except in rare instances such as in education or politics) or intervening in situations where there could be a conflict of interests (for example between your interests and those of another person whom he advises or represents).
Independence enables the lawyer to speak freely before the courts (immunity of pleadings) and gives him the right to accept or refuse a case on conscience.
The profession of the lawyer is based on loyalty.
Your lawyer is also obliged scrupulously to respect the duties of justice and morals and to refrain from any behaviour, whether professional or private, liable adversely to affect the honour of his profession.
Like independence, these principles underlie the confidence which is the basis of your relations with your lawyer.
Legally, your lawyer is obliged to maintain professional secrecy.
He may not disclose, or be forced to disclose, information which you have entrusted to him or which relates to you and which you have a moral or material interest in not revealing. Do not hesitate therefore to trust him, because to represent you properly he must be fully informed.
In the same spirit, correspondence between lawyers and between the lawyer and his client is confidential: except in rare instances, it may not be produced in court. This rule enables lawyers to correspond freely between themselves and with their clients. Often this makes conciliation possible, and a case can be closed more speedily and more cheaply than might otherwise be the situation.
The Bar is instructed to reprimand or punish breaches by lawyers of professional ethics.
If a lawyer breaches professional ethics, any interested party may complain to the President of the Bar. The latter will examine the complaint (or have it examined by a member or former member of the Bar Council appointed by him) and decide whether or not to take it before the Disciplinary Council.
The lawyer concerned and, if necessary, the complainant will be heard, assisted if they wish by counsel.
The sanctions pronounced by the Disciplinary Council go from a warning to a temporary suspension, or definitive striking off, from exercising the profession of lawyer.
The complainant does not take part in this “disciplinary” procedure, but retains the right to claim for the liability of his lawyer before the ordinary civil or criminal courts.