Basic rules



Any handling of funds carried out by a lawyer must necessarily constitute the accessory of a legal or judicial act.

A lawyer therefore does not have the right to handle funds on behalf of a client other than as an accessory to a legal or judicial transaction that he performs for this client.


Any handling of funds carried out by a lawyer on behalf of his clients must imperatively go through the CARPA.

The lawyer can never receive funds from or on behalf of his clients in his own bank accounts or in those of his law firm. This does not involve the collection of the expenses and fees that he receives in his bank accounts.

He has the obligation to deposit the funds intended for/coming from his clients with the CARPA to which he will then give his instructions to make payment to the beneficiaries.

The Court of Cassation has ruled that the fact that a lawyer handles funds outside the CARPA constituted the offense of breach of trust. 

It is therefore strictly forbidden for a lawyer to handle funds of third parties outside of the CARPA.

NB: A trust does not fall within the scope of intervention of the CARPA in the current state of the law.


The bank account in which the funds received by the lawyer on behalf of his clients are deposited is opened in the name of the CARPA.

The CARPA creates for every Lawyer an account in its books within which sub-accounts are identified for each case.

In compliance with professional secrecy, this structuring is not known to the bank for which the account holder is the CARPA.

Not being the bank account holder, the lawyer cannot freely operate the account and to do so must have a delegation which at any time can be suspended or withdrawn by the President of the Bar Association.

The lawyer cannot therefore freely dispose of his clients' funds.


Any handling of funds carried out by a lawyer on behalf of his clients is subject to the prior control by CARPA, both in entry and withdrawal.

The control exercised by the CARPA under the authority of the President of the Bar Association is notably of an ethical nature. This is a control and regulation system placed under the responsibility of the professional authority applying to any handling of funds carried out by lawyers.

Principle of professional secrecy shared between the lawyer and the President of the Bar Association

A lawyer has the obligation to answer CARPA's questions when it requests explanations or supporting documents relating to an operation for which he has received or is to receive funds and this without being able to invoke professional secrecy.

The Court of Cassation confirmed in a 2003 judgment (Civ. 1st, October 21, 2003 no 01-11-16) that the internal regulations for the handling of funds adopted by the Council of the Bar Association could legitimately "by derogation from professional secrecy" allow the Bar Association to require the lawyer to provide explanations to the CARPA.

The control carried out by the CARPA thus falls within the framework of the professional secrecy shared between the lawyer and the President of his Bar Association, the principle of which was highlighted by the European Court of Human Rights in the Michaud judgment of December 6, 2012 (ECHR December 6, 2012 no 12323/11 Michaud/France).

A lawyer cannot therefore receive funds or give instructions to transfer them to the beneficiaries without prior control by the CARPA under the authority and responsibility of the Bar Association and the President of the Bar Association.

For the Bar Association, the CARPA is a real "operational arm" dedicated to controlling and regulating the handling of funds by lawyers; it is a key element of the anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing mechanism of the legal profession and of its self-regulation.

The action of the CARPA falls within the framework of Articles 17-9°, 17-13° and 53-9° of Law no 71-1130 of December 31, 1971, entrusting to the Bar Association the responsibility for verifying that lawyers' bookkeeping and compliance with their anti-money laundering obligations.

Under the terms of Article L. 561-36 of the Monetary and Financial Code, the monitoring of compliance by lawyers with their obligations in the fight against money laundering and, where applicable, the power of sanction in the event of non-compliance with the latter, are in fact ensured by the Bar Association, which can be assisted in its control mission by the National Council of Bar Associations in accordance with Article 21-1 of the Law of December 31, 1971.