The right to practice as a Lawyer isn't a good protected by the right of property

Publié le : 20/12/2007 20 décembre déc. 12 2007

"The right to practice as a Lawyer doesn't constitute, as such, a good protected by article 1 of the first protocol to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, notwithstanding any violation of the patrimonial value which could be attached to it."

The 1st chamber of the Cour de Cassation (French supreme civil and commercial court) in a decision rendered in November 22, 2007 has confirmed a decision of the Paris Court of appeal rendered in May 18th 2006. The Court of appeal had rejected the interpretation of a lawyer who considered that the provisional suspension of his practice should have been deducted to the temporary interdiction to exercise that has been pronounced against me.

The question was: should the 10th months provisional suspension have been deducted from the definitive three year interdiction to practice?

The sanctioned lawyer's argument was that:
- The right to exercise the profession of lawyer is a good protected by article 1 of the 1st addendum to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
- The refusal to deduct the temporary sanctions to the definitive sanctions is an excessive breach of this right and therefore to the European convention.

The French Supreme Court hasn't followed this argumentation. For the supreme judges, the right to practice the profession of lawyer doesn't constitute a good which could be protected by the 1st protocol to the European convention on human rights which states that:

Article 1 : Protection of property

Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law.

The preceding provisions shall not, however, in any way impair the right of a State to enforce such laws as it deems necessary to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest or to secure the payment of taxes or other contributions or penalties.

The analysis of the Supreme Court must be approved, since lawyers cannot be seen as owner of a right to exercise, right that is submitted to disciplinary rules and special conditions to become a lawyer. The requirements to become a lawyer cannot qualify this right to practice as a good.

This solution could seem strange but provisional suspensions and temporary interdiction to practice are two distinct disciplinary sanctions founded on two different legal basis.

Cet article n'engage que son auteur.


VIBERT Olivier
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Olivier VIBERT
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