Legal privilege and professional secrecy—France—Q&A guide

The following Dispute Resolution practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Legal privilege and professional secrecy—France—Q&A guide
  • 1. Identify and describe your jurisdiction’s laws, regulations, professional rules and doctrines that protect communications between an attorney and a client from disclosure.
  • 2. Describe any relevant differences in your jurisdiction between the status of private practitioners and in-house counsel, in terms of protections for attorney-client communications.
  • 3. Identify and describe your jurisdiction’s laws, regulations, professional rules and doctrines that provide protection from disclosure of tangible material created in anticipation of litigation.
  • 4. Identify and summarise recent landmark decisions involving attorney-client communications and work-product.
  • 5. Describe the elements necessary to confer protection over attorney-client communications.
  • 6. Describe any settings in which the protections for attorney-client communications are not recognised.
  • 7. In your jurisdiction, do the protections for attorney-client communications belong to the client, or is secrecy a duty incumbent on the attorney?
  • 8. To what extent are the facts communicated between an attorney and a client protected, as opposed to the attorney-client communication itself?
  • 9. In what circumstances do communications with agents of the attorney or agents of the client fall within the scope of the protections for attorney-client communications?
  • More...

This Practice Note contains a jurisdiction-specific Q&A guide to legal privilege and professional secrecy in France published as part of the Lexology Getting the Deal Through series by Law Business Research (published: November 2020).

Authors: Soulez Larivière et Associés—Aurélia Grignon

1. Identify and describe your jurisdiction’s laws, regulations, professional rules and doctrines that protect communications between an attorney and a client from disclosure.

In France, the protection of communications between attorney and client derives both from the obligation incumbent upon lawyers to maintain the secrecy of the information and documents exchanged with a client in their professional capacity as set forth in the laws, decrees and normative decisions regulating their legal profession, as well as from the criminal sanction attached to the violation of professional secrecy.

Specifically, attorney-client privilege is provided by article 66-5 of Act No. 71-1130 of 31 December 1971 reforming certain legal and judicial professions, which provides that:

In all areas, whether in the area of counsel or defence, written advice sent by lawyers to their clients or intended for them, correspondence between clients and their lawyers, . . . notes from meetings, and generally all the documents in the case file, are covered by professional secrecy.

It is further stated in Decree 2005-790 of 12 July 2005 relating to the rules of ethics of the legal profession (article 4), and in the National Rules of Procedure

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