The French legal system is based, like many others in Europe, on Roman law and respect for the primacy of law. It is also based on the civil code, partly written by Napoleon and enacted in 1804, which had a major impact both in France and abroad. It was adopted, virtually unchanged, by many countries around the world, such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Latin America, North Africa, Senegal, etc.
The legal profession is governed primarily by Act 90-1259 of December 31, 1990, which amends Act 71-1130 of December 31, 1971, and by its Implementing Decree 91-1197 of November 27, 1991. Ethics and jurisprudence are also important to defining the roles of lawyers, and the Conseil national des barreaux, which brings together 161 local bars in France, has played a leading role in this area by aligning the various internal rules adopted over the years by local bars.
The Conseil National has made it possible for the various local regulations to be aligned and merged into a single text, the National Internal Regulations (RIN), which lays down the ethical rules for all lawyers practicing in France, along with Decree 2005-790 of July 12, 2005 concerning the ethical rules that apply to lawyers.
The right of the Conseil national des barreaux to issue mandatory ethical standards has been confirmed by case law. It should be noted that the Code of Conduct for Lawyers in the European Community, which applies to cross-border activities within the EU, and was adopted in Strasbourg in 1988 by the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe, was incorporated into the RINs, and is, therefore mandatory for all French attorneys.
On the initiative of the Conseil national des barreaux, all of these texts, along with case law, were assembled in the Code de l'avocat [the Lawyers' Code], whose first edition was issued in 2012.