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25/11/2014 PROFILE > Avocat

Today, can a French lawyer use publicity?

Article 13 of law n°2014-344 of 17 March 2014 pertaining to consumption, known as the "Hamon Law" amended article 3 bis of law n°71-1130 of 31 December 1971. Notably, the latter article now makes provision as follows:

"[…] lawyers are authorised to use publicity as well as personal solicitation. Any service provided following personal solicitation shall be the object of a fee agreement. "

Since publication on 29 October 2014 on the Official Journal of decree n° 2014-1251 of 28 October 2014 pertaining to the communication methods of lawyers, lawyers are well aware of the framework in whichthey can use publicity and personal solicitation.

The aforementioned decree firstly removes the second paragraph of article 5 of the decree of 25 August 1972 pertaining to canvassing and publicity in terms of consultation and drafting legal deeds. Henceforth, penalties for which provision is made under article L. 121-23 of the Consumer Code (two years in prison and a fine of €150,000) are applicable to any person who, not being a lawyer, is guilty of any canvassing with a view to providing consultation or drafting legal deeds.

Subsequently, it amendsarticle 15 of decree n°2005-790 of 12 July 2005 pertaining to the code of ethics of the profession of a lawyer by making provision as follows:

"Publicity and personal canvassing are permitted for a lawyer if they procure sincere information as to the nature of services offered and if their implementation respects the fundamental provisions of the profession. They exclude any comparative or denigrating information.

Publicity is undertaken in line with the terms and conditions set forth by the decree of 25 August 1972 aforementioned.

Personal solicitation takes the form of a letter or email sent to the recipient of the service offer, excluding any text message sent to a mobile phone. It makes provision for the terms and conditions for the cost of the service, which is the object of a fee agreement. "

The terms and conditions for which provision is made by the decree of 25 August 1972 shall be applicable in the framework of the ruling by the Council of State no. 361593 of 13 December 2013. Consequently, article 2 of this decree makes provision as follows:

"Publicity with a view to making consultations, drafting deeds or proposing legal assistance may not be undertaken by leaflets, posters, films, radio programmes or television programmes".

The following is no longer applicable to lawyers:

"The decision of 23 July 2012 by the Minister for Justice is annulled insofar as it refuses to abrogate [...], insofar as it is applicable to lawyers, articles 2 and 3 of decree no. 72-785 of 25 August 1982 [...]".

National Internal Regulations (RIN) were amended by the addition of a new article 10 to take due account of this new regulatory provision pertaining to communication methods of lawyers.

Find out more details on this modification on the website of the National Council of Bar Associations (CNB).