Oral Testimony of Henri Ader,
President of the Ethics Committees of the Paris Bar and the General Council of French Bars,
before the ABA Commission on Multidisciplinary Practice
August 8, 1999
The next person at the microphone was Henri Ader, former chair of the Paris Bar, and president of the ethics committees of the Paris Bar and the General Council of French Bars, and vice-president of the ethics committee of the Federation of European Bars. He indicated he had read the Commission’s report as well as the MDP reports of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York and the New York State Bar. He likened the English ‘core values of the legal profession’ to the French ‘principes essentiel’ and said these are main principles on which all lawyers in France agree. He identified four essential principles: independence, avoidance of conflicts of interest, professional secrecy, and client’s free choice of the lawyer. The Nallet Report, commissioned by the French Prime Minister and issued in July 1999, calls, in addition to the normal bar organization, for the creation of a national commission having jurisdiction over matters of professional ethics involving MDPs where there are gaps or conflicts in the rules applicable to the professions in the MDP. It would consist of members of the government as well as representatives of bar and accounting organizations (eight in all). The avocats, however, oppose the Report because they want to remain masters of their own yard. His understanding of the Report is that any MDP partner of a lawyer must observe the four essential principles or the lawyers must leave the MDP.
Asked by the Chair whether the European accounting community has responded to the French proposal that applies the four principles, including conflict of interest and its imputation rule, to an MDP, Mr. Ader responded that the accounting firms said they would respect the principles. He questioned, however, the ability of the accounting firms that have an obligation to denounce what they know to the state, to partner with a lawyer.