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Lawyers in France and attorney-client privelege

French attorneys ("avocats") are bound per se by strict rules on confidentiality.

According to the National Rules applicable to the Profession of Attorney ("Règlement Intérieur National de la Profession d'Avocat - RIN"), any and all information exchanged between a lawyer and a client, regardless of its medium or form (electronic, paper or verbal), is covered by attorney-client privilege. Attorney-client privilege applies, inter alia, to:

  • any and all memoranda and consultations addressed by an attorney to its client or which were intended for the client's attention,
  • any and all correspondence exchanged between an attorney and its client, as well between an attorney and other attorneys (including the attorneys of the adverse or opposing party), except correspondence which bears the mention "official",
  • notes taken by attorneys during meetings or conference calls and any and all documents which relate to a client matter,
  • the names of the clients and the attorney's agenda (client names may be disclosed for marketing purposes only with the prior authorization of the client),
  • amounts paid by a client to an attorney,
  • etc.

To ensure the protection of the interests of their clients, French attorneys are in addition bound by strict rules on conflict of interest. They may not represent or advise more than one client in a matter if there is a conflit of interest or if a serious risk of conflict of interest exists.

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