Ethics is the study of duties imposed on a profession.
It does not deal with corporatist rules, nor with rules intended to protect lawyers.
Essential principles are listed in Articles 1 to 5 of the National Bar Rules.
Essential principles of the profession guide the lawyer's behaviour in all circumstances. The lawyer shall perform his duties with dignity, honour, independence, probity and humanity, in compliance with the terms of his oath. In this exercise he shall also respect the principles of honour, loyalty, selflessness, collegiality, tactfulness, moderation and courtesy.
In this respect, lawyers comply with the rules of adversarial debate in spontaneously and previously supplying their documents and arguments to their opponents. They must inform their adversaries of the significance of appeal statements with loyalty andcourtesy.
Lawyers must respect the general and absolute principle unlimited in time of professional secrecy (Article 2 of the National Bar Rules). Secrecy is aimed at protecting the client and not the lawyer; it belongs to the client.
Secrecy is intended to apply to all matters, whatever the form, whether material or immaterial.. Lawyer s should ensure that any person working with them respects this secrecy.
Secrecy is particularly strenghened regarding penal matters. Lawyers must not inform third parties of evidence arising from an inquiry and/or oral or written instructions. They may send copies of documents or acts to their clients under the circumstances set out in Article 114 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. (www.legifrance.gouv.fr)
Exchanges between French lawyers are confidential by nature. It is impossible to dispense with confidentiality on this matter.
Barristers must refuse any requests that would lead them to breach secrecy and confidentiality.
Barristers may decide to turn down a case in the event of a conflict of interests. This is the guarantee of their independence.