The Conseil national des barreaux was given some very specific responsibilities by law, and the way it works is governed by legal provisions and decrees, backed by internal rules.
Internal Regulations Establishing the Details of How the Conseil National works
Under Article 38 of the Decree of November 27, 1991 creating the structure of the legal profession, "The way the Conseil national des barreaux works is established by internal regulations drawn up in a general meeting and reported to the Keeper of Seals, the Minister of Justice."
The internal regulations of the Conseil national des barreaux define the status of the institution, and govern the roles of its officers, its elections procedures, and its financing. Adopted by the General Assembly meeting of May 29, 1999, and amended by the General Assembly meetings of December 14, 2002, November 15, 2003, February 11-12, 2005, February 25, 2006, and December 12-13, 2008.
Composition of the Conseil national des barreaux
It is made up of 80 members, who are elected for three years (48 lawyers for the national district and 32 for the Paris district), and two ex officio vice-presidents, the president of the Paris bar, and the current president of the Conference of Bar Presidents.
It also includes a Secretariat made up of eleven members, of whom nine are elected by the General Assembly, with the others being the current presidents of the Conference of Bar Presidents and the Paris Bar Association, who are ex officio vice presidents and have no other function.
Conseil national secretariat
The Conseil national secretariat has eleven members, of whom nine are elected by the General Assembly (one president, two vice-presidents, one secretary, one treasurer, and four members at large), as well as the current president of the Conference of Bar Presidents, and the president of the Paris Bar Association, who are ex officio vice-presidents and have no other function.
- The Secretariat carries out the decisions of the General Assembly and is accountable to it for its activities.
- Its members may take part in committee meetings.
- Under the control of the General Assembly, it conducts the negotiations that fall within the competence of the Conseil national. It reports to the General Assembly.
- Between general assemblies, it speaks for the Conseil national, and in emergencies, it takes any measures that are within the mandate of the Conseil national. It informs the General Assembly of this immediately.
The President has the authority to act in the name of the Conseil national in all procedures involving civil matters, to be a party to legal proceedings, and, more generally, to represent the Conseil national to public authorities, other professions, and third parties.
- The President may temporarily delegate part of his or her powers to one or more members of the Secretariat.
- The President plans for Conseil national deliberations to be published and oversees their publication.
The Secretary assists the President with his or her tasks and maintains the various records that are kept at the Conseil national headquarters:
- the record of the minutes of the meetings of the Secretariat and General Assembly;
- the special records of the deliberations on the decisions taken in application of Articles 99 and 100 of the Decree;
- the special records for normative decisions.
The Treasurer, under the oversight of the auditor, keeps the Conseil national accounts
On an annual basis, the Treasurer presents a budget proposal and the financial statement prepared by the Secretariat to the General Assembly, which also hears the auditor's report.
Meetings of the General Assembly
As part of its mandate, the Conseil national sets its course in meetings of the General Assembly, and makes proposals to public authorities concerning any changes that it believes to be useful or necessary.
The General Assembly, convened by the President of the Conseil national, meets once a month.
- The notice of the meeting includes the agenda of the General Assembly meeting and the place where it is to be held. It is sent out at least eight days before the date of the General Assembly meeting.
- In the event of an emergency, as determined by the President, the General Assembly may be convened by any means with no required advance notice. The emergency procedure may not be used to hold an election.
Meetings of the General Assembly are presided over:
- by the President;
- if the President is absent, by the more senior of the vice-presidents in attendance;
- in the event that they have equal seniority, the younger of the two vice presidents.
At the beginning of every year, the Secretariat proposes a draft calendar of the work for the year, and then keeps it continually updated. The bar associations and professional unions and technical organizations receive the agenda for each meeting of the Conseil national General Assembly.
- The agenda is prepared by the Secretariat. It may be added to if there is a group request by at least one quarter of the members of the Conseil national or the Secretariat, delivered in writing to the President at least five days before the date of the General Assembly meeting. The President informs the members of these requests in his or her oral communications.
- The President sees to it that minutes of the previous meeting are approved. He or she identifies the subjects and reports that are to be deliberated upon.
A written report on agenda items requiring a vote by the General Assembly should be provided to Conseil national members by at least the day before the relevant meeting.
- In addition, progress reports are also provided to the members at least 48 hours before the General Assembly meeting where their contents are to be subject to consideration.
- By derogation, and primarily in emergencies, the President may at any time ask the General Assembly to take up a question, and, on the basis of a written or oral report, vote on it.
- Likewise, the assembly itself may decide by majority vote to take up a question in order to vote on it.
Types of Decisions
General Assembly deliberations can take the form of opinions, motions, recommendations, adoption of reports or setting a course, individual or general decisions, and, pursuant to the provisions of Articles 17.10 and 21-1 of the Act, normative decisions.
Procedure for Adopting Normative Decisions
When the Conseil national is to make a normative decision that is within its competencies, the chairperson of the permanent committee in charge of the case submits a report on the topic to the General Assembly.
- This report contains an explanatory preamble and a proposed draft of the normative decision, as well as, when the permanent committee believes this to be necessary, possible alternative drafts.
- The draft that is adopted is called an "initial proposal for a normative decision."
- All initial proposals for normative decisions are submitted as soon as possible to the bar associations and professional unions and technical organizations for their input. • The general assembly establishes a deadline for when their input, if it is to be taken into account, must reach the Conseil national.
- After this input is received, a new report supporting the "draft normative decision" is submitted to the General Assembly.
Once adopted, the normative decision comes into force on the date that the bar associations are notified of it by registered mail with request for acknowledgment of receipt (Article 17-10 of Act 71-1130 of December 31, 1971, amended).
- It is published in the Official Journal of the French Republic.
- It is sent to the professional unions and technical organizations for their information.
- These decisions are given a number consisting of the four digits indicating the year when the deliberation took place, followed by a hyphen, and then followed by a sequence number.
Amendments to Draft Resolutions
All members of the Conseil national have the right to amend a draft resolution.
- They may exercise this right subject to the following procedural and substantive conditions:
- Inasmuch as possible, the amendment should be drawn up, along with a summary explanatory preamble, so that it can be either inserted into the text being discussed or used to replace it.
- Priority is given to reviewing amendments to vacate
- The author of the amendment should support it, or have someone else support it, and then the chairperson of the committee concerned can explain his or her views on the proposed amendment.
- After a debate, the President asks the General Assembly to accept or reject the amendment.
The Various Committees
Besides the institutional committee on professional training provided for in Article 39 of the Decree of November 27, 1991, the General Assembly may, at the start of, or during, its term, create one or more permanent committees and establish their names, descriptions, and fields of competency. Upon the proposal of a committee chairperson, working groups may be created within a committee. If it appears that a topic justifies this, an ad hoc cross-subject committee can also be created by the President of the Conseil national, the Secretariat, or the General Assembly. It ceases to exist after its report is discussed and deliberated on by the General Assembly.
- A list of the institutional and permanent committees, and descriptions of the powers conferred on them, can be found in an appendix to the internal regulations.
- The President asks every member of the Conseil national to choose one or more permanent committees to join; the exception to this is the institutional committee on professional training. A member may not belong to more than two committees.
- Except for the institutional committee for professional training, Conseil national committees are composed exclusively of members of the Conseil national and highly qualified authorities.
- These highly qualified authorities are appointed by the Secretariat, acting on a proposal by the committee.
How the Committees Work
- They may be taken up by the President, the Secretariat, or the General Assembly.
- The agendas of the committee meetings are sent to the members of the Conseil national for their information.
- The Chairperson of a committee may invite anyone to attend a committee meeting.
Committees designate a reporter for every project that is to be either submitted to a vote by the general assembly, or presented to it.
- After debate within the committee, the reporter submits to the chairperson a report that expresses the majority opinion, and if applicable, relates dissenting opinions.
- The chairperson of the committee sends the report to the Secretariat. The report is given to the members of the Conseil national for their information as well as for any amendment.
Documents, progress reports, and committee reports are considered to be preparatory work until they are subject to deliberation by the General Assembly. When they are disseminated they must clearly be marked "Draft" and have the following footer: "This draft is a working document of a Conseil national committee; it has not yet been deliberated upon in a meeting of the General Assembly; and, therefore, is not final."