Brief description of the legal system in France

The distinction barristers / solicitors does not exist in France. “Avocats” (lawyers) provide advocacy services before all Courts in France and are also in charge of drafting written pleadings. Avocats may also act as “conseils” or consultants, providing advice on such wide-ranging issues as the best way to limit tax liability or assisting a client purchasing real estate in France.

A distinction exists in France between the avocats and the “notaires” (notaries). The latter have a monopoly in certain areas, e.g. liquidation of assets after a divorce, devolution of estate upon death, etc. Whereas avocats form part of the “liberal professions”, the notaires have a ministerial charge which is often passed on from parents to children.

Other than for Crown Court criminal cases, litigation in France is almost exclusively based on written pleadings which are filed with the Court. The avocats provide oral explanations during the hearing.
It is extremely rare for witnesses to be convened and interviewed by the Courts. Most evidence is provided in written form.

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