For the AFJE and its new chairman, priority right of nondisclosure

The AFJE has been renewed. On May 17, Jean-Philippe Gille took over the helm of the first association of French lawyers. Il sera bien accompagné : Besma Boumaza, vice presidente métier, Tristan Carayon, vice president en charge des commissions experts, François Lhospitalier, vice president communication et tous les membres du bureau travailleront à porter la fonction de juriste hors des l ‘company.

Political courage and underdevelopment

Among the priorities of the new president? A subject known to lawyers, almost dusty, not yet integrated by the legislator: the confidentiality of lawyers’ advice. The tool would be essential “If we want a strong legal sector and French companies that can meet the challenges”, insists Jean-Philippe Gille. He expects the new presidential term to “political courage” act, because “it is incomprehensible to be in a state of legal underdevelopment compared to competing countries”† The United States, Germany, Spain, Belgium, England have done so and the Court of Cassation has made progress on this point. It is up to the legislature to do its part of the job, especially as it would be, emphasizes Tristan Carayon, “very easy to set up and would globalize, would not be linked to the specificity of the information, but to its holder, the lawyer”† If he doesn’t? “Companies will look for the tools to protect themselves, they will adapt to their limitations”, they explain, because they can’t wait any longer. The time would be ideal, the AFJE would believe: China has adopted new provisions with extraterritorial scope, American lawyers have understood that the legal privilege did not exist in France and do not hesitate to request numerous documents from lawyers. In addition, the war in Ukraine has raised the issue of sovereignty to the highest level. The first cut may not be perfect, but the essence is elsewhere: we have to send a signal to companies.

The reactivation of the blocking law by Bercy will not be enough. “It is a very good initiative, which gives a picture of extra pressure in light of foreign demand”, in the opinion of Tristan Carayon. But it won’t filter. The period of one month provided for in the decree is too long, the schedule of the Strategic Information and Economic Security Service (Sisse) is unclear. “It is a shield, but heavy to lift”, for Jean-Philippe Gille. De Sisse is not necessarily seized, the French courts will not necessarily enforce the sanctions. Companies will not refer to it. It requires companies to scrutinize their operations, determine whether they are strategic and which documents are sensitive. “But they don’t have the time to do such work when they’re on the brink of a lawsuit, and they don’t have the resources to do it upstream”, regrets Jean-Philippe Gille. However, the AFJE is calling “to the greatest collaboration with Bercy”

Company acting for justice

Other subjects will occupy the office. There is the training portfolio, where the AFJE Campus is organized every year. Those of the university and the commercial or engineering courses, carried by Nathalie Dubois, because “the lawyer leaves his office and his files to go to the city, and that it is better to represent the profession, to future lawyers but also to their future employers”, says the president of the association. And that of ethics. The AFJE has also developed a code with the help of the Cercle Montesquieu. The statutes provide for sanctions – including exclusion – in case of non-compliance.

In addition, the AFJE will have to work on interprofessionalism, both with lawyers and with magistrates. Also reassure them: “Lawyers do not intend to legal privilege as a vault to hide torts”, explains Besma Boumaza. The association says it is ready to “give guarantees”† Those who cheat put themselves in danger, as the principles of law dictate. The AFJE wants to make it clear that companies are actors, society expects them to be involved. The legislator has imposed many obligations on them. Compliance is expensive for companies without getting the tool they need in return. “If you want to talk about the…Erule of law, it will be necessary to bring all actors of justice around the table”, assures Besma Boumaza. Yet the real issue for them is the lack of resources of French justice. The AFJE is now waiting, just like everyone else, for the conclusions of the report of the States General of Justice and the roadmap of the Seal Keeper.

Olivia Fuentes

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