French fight govt on money laundering

A consortium of French legal organisations are fighting the French government over its implementation of a controversial money-laundering law.

The Conseil National des Barreaux (French Bar Council), the Conférence des Bâtonniers (Bar Presidents’ Council), the Barreau de Paris (Paris Bar Council) and the lawyers working at the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal have filed a motion before the Supreme Court attacking the money-laundering decree that came into effect on 26 June.

The consortium argued that the decree had illegally implemented the 2001 second European money laundering directive, which extended the range of crimes, included under the banner of money laundering and imposed an obligation on professions including lawyers, accountants and estate agents to report their suspicions of money laundering.

The lawyers also told the court that the French decree was in violation of international laws, including the European Convention on Human Rights. They contested that the European directive was also in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights as well as other fundamental European principles.

A spokesperson for the Conseil National des Barreaux told The Lawyer that the consortium wanted the court to refer the issue to the European Court of Justice in order to obtain a judgment on the validity of the second directive.

At the time of going to press, there was no indication as to when the Supreme Court would be able to give its decision, although it is hoped for in early 2007.