The free choice of the lawyer is a fundamental principle of the exercise of our profession linked to the relationship of trust that unites the client to his council.
When he agrees to defend the interests of a litigant, the lawyer follows a file until the event ends his intervention.
In a legal proceeding, this begins with the referral of the client and ends with the judge’s decision or execution.
Thus, according to article 13 of the Decree n ° 2005-790 of July 12, 2005, “the lawyer leads to the end of the business he is in charge of, unless his client discharges it or he decides not to pursue his mission.
It sometimes happens that several lawyers succeed each other in the management of the same file which entails the combined application of the provisions specific to the Profession.
We suggest you take a look at these different rules that protect the client’s interests while guaranteeing the serenity of his successive advice.
Relationships between lawyers:
Relationships between successive boards of the same client are a matter of good agreement and mutual respect.
Cordiality and delicacy are required of lawyers who belong to a regulated profession within an ordinal organization.
However, the change of council is not without raising practical difficulties that the National Rules of the profession of lawyer tries to solve.
Thus the text orders the new lawyer to obtain from the client the information concerning the previous counsel in charge of the file and to take contact with him without delay.
In any event, Article 9 provides that:
“Unless the president of the Bar, the lawyer who agrees to succeed a colleague can not defend the interests of the client against his predecessor”.
For his part, the divested lawyer must communicate to his successor the documents in his possession and “having no right of retention, must transmit without delay all the necessary elements to the
The customer does not have to suffer in the management of his case from replacing his first board for a next.
It can never be sufficiently recalled that “all relations between lawyers are exercised in a spirit of confraternity, correction and courtesy” as underlined by the Rules of Procedure of the Lyon Bar Association in Article LY 22.214.171.124.
Settlement of the lawyer’s fees:
An excess of naivety could push aside the financial aspects and the pecuniary consequences that entails a change of lawyers.
Such an approach would amount to denying that the remuneration of a lawyer is sometimes at the origin of the break with his client:
– Or that the lawyer interrupts his mission before discharging the file following a lack of payment of his benefits.
Although transparency allows most of the time to avoid such disappointments, it happens that finance is a law in the relationship between the principal and his agent.
Again, the National Rules of the profession of lawyer in its article 9 specifies the steps to follow to start on a new basis.
It is therefore provided that:
“A lawyer who agrees to succeed a colleague must, before any diligence, notify him in writing and inquire as to the sums he may owe.
The new lawyer strives to obtain from his client that he settle the remaining amounts possibly due to a colleague previously seized of the file. If he receives a payment from the client while sums remain due to his predecessor, he informs the president of the payment. ”
In case of difficulties, it will be up to the President to solve the problem because the divestiture of one for another must not be at the expense of either of them.
It is not uncommon for a procedure to contest the fees of the old council be initiated concomitant to the change of lawyers or follow.
Clients must remain aware of the scope of their commitments to their lawyer and the indirect consequences of the breach.
In fact, the fixed fee agreements that certain Orders present as a model, sometimes stipulate the following clauses:
“In the event of early termination by the client of the mandate entrusted to the lawyer, the latter will receive the full amount will become immediately due, the balance possibly due until the end of this contract being acquired as a penalty clause.
In the event of early termination by the lawyer, the fees due will be assessed in time spent without ever being able to exceed half of the fixed price, the possible surplus being acquired to the customer as a penalty clause.
Estate of lawyers and legal aid:
When the client is eligible for partial or full legal aid, the financial question does not disappear if the advice is changed.
Especially since all lawyers do not agree to intervene in a case under the assumption of responsibility of the State.
Between public compensation and settlement of fees, the pecuniary interests at stake are obviously not the same …
Financial reports between lawyers “at the AJ” are organized by Article 19 of Decree No. 2005-790 of July 12, 2005 relating to the rules of ethics of the profession of lawyer.
The National Rules of Procedure of the profession of lawyer reproduce these provisions in its article 9.3 stating that:
“The lawyer who succeeds a colleague who intervenes as legal aid can claim fees only if his client has expressly waived his benefit. He informs his client beforehand of the consequences of this waiver. In addition, he informs his former colleague, the Legal Aid Office and the Bâtonnier “.
In the case where two lawyers intervening in legal aid follow one another in a file, they will have to share one and the same compensation corresponding to one and the same procedure: There will then be no new decision of the Help Office Juridictionnelle but a simple modification.
In accordance with Article 103 of Decree No. 91-1266 of 19 December 1991, the sharing of legal aid following the succession of lawyers will be organized as follows:
“When a lawyer appointed or chosen as a jurisdiction is, in the course of the proceedings, replaced for the same reason by another lawyer for a legitimate reason, there is only one contribution from the State. This contribution is paid to the second lawyer, for him to share with the first in a proportion that, failing agreement, is fixed by the president.
In the case where the lawyers do not belong to the same bar, the decision is taken jointly by the bar owners of the bars concerned.
The Legal Aid Office and the President are therefore the guarantors of the allocation and settlement of public funds.
It follows from the above that the free choice of the lawyer implies a right to change perfectly organized.
The texts governing this case can thus reconcile all the interests involved by avoiding abuses.
The only profit that the client can derive from the succession of lawyers is the benefit of a defense that meets his expectations and a collaboration with confidence.
In any case, he must be aware that his council is bound to him only with a duty of advice and an obligation of information throughout the duration of his intervention.
The lawyer is not subject to any obligation of result in a judicial proceeding the outcome of which depends on the discretion of the judges of the fund.