Public buyers: you can now freely choose your lawyer!
The purchase of legal services has long been considered incompatible with the rules for awarding public contracts, given the legislation applicable to the profession of lawyer and their ethical obligations (Law No. 71-1130 of December 31, 1971 amended on reform of certain judicial and legal professions).
Directive 2014/24 / EU of February 26, 2014 on the award of public contracts excluded from its scope the contracts for legal representation services or advice related to such representation as well as the services of legal advice for an amount less than € 750,000 excluding tax (articles 4 and 10 of Directive 2014/24).
For its part, the public procurement code distinguishes between legal representation services and legal advice services in connection with litigation which are excluded from the scope of the public procurement code and traditional legal advice services. which fall within the scope of the public procurement code but which are exempt from the rules of publicity and competition when their amount remains below € 40,000 excluding tax and subject to rules freely defined by the public purchaser at- of the.
En application des nouvelles règles de la commande de la commande publique, un acheteur public peut désormais choisir librement son avocat dans deux hypothèses : d’une part lorsque les besoins concernent des prestations de représentation juridique et/ou de conseils juridiques en lien avec une procédure contentieuse et cela sans considération de montant, d’autre part, lorsque les besoins concernent des prestations de conseils juridiques mais alors dans la limite de 40.000 € HT.
Hypothèse n°1 : Le libre choix de l’avocat pour des prestations de représentation juridique et/ou pour des prestations de conseils juridiques in connection with a contentious procedure regardless of amount
Decree n ° 2021-357 of March 30, 2021 taken in application of law n ° 2020-1525 of December 7, 2020 known as the ASAP law repealed the provisions relating to the procedure for the procurement of legal representation services by a lawyer and legal advice relating to litigation.
The provision of legal representation services by a lawyer and legal advice relating to litigation are therefore now excluded from the scope of the public procurement code.
Concretely, a public purchaser is free to enter into a legal assistance agreement with the lawyer of his choice without respecting the rules of publicity and competition provided for by the public procurement code as soon as the services are intended for legal representation of a public purchaser by a lawyer as well as legal advisory services provided in connection with litigation.
Sont tout d’abord concernés tous les services juridiques de représentation par un avocat. Cette exclusion ne se limite pas à la représentation devant une juridiction, mais vise également la représentation devant une autorité publique ou encore devant une institution internationale (La Directive vise les procédures « devant les juridictions ou les autorités publiques d’un Etat membre ou d’un pays tiers ou devant les juridictions ou institutions internationales »).
This then concerns the legal services of representation by a lawyer within the framework of an alternative dispute resolution method.
Finally, legal consultation services provided by a lawyer are also excluded from the scope of the public procurement code when they are carried out with a view to preparing a representation procedure, whether before a court or an authority. public or as part of an alternative dispute resolution method or " when there are tangible signs and a high probability that the matter to which the consultation relates will be the subject of such a procedure ". It may be, for example, a consultation relating to the best litigation strategy to adopt in the context of a case or to examine the relevance of the means invoked by the opposing party in order to determine the argument to be developed. or the follow-up to be given to a pending case.
Hypothèse n°2 : Le libre choix de l’avocat pour des prestations de conseils juridiques dont le montant reste inférieur à 40.000 € HT.
Article R. 2122-8 of the public procurement code also provides that a public purchaser can enter into a contract without advertising or prior competition to meet a need whose estimated value is less than € 40,000 excluding tax.
Concretely, a public purchaser is free to conclude a legal assistance agreement with the lawyer of his choice without respecting the rules of publicity and competition provided for by the public procurement code as soon as the maximum amount of the fees provided for by the agreement remains less than 40,000 € HT.
To put it another way, in this case, the buyer can conclude a legal assistance contract " little by little With the lawyer of his choice.
In the two aforementioned cases, public buyers are completely free to choose the lawyer of their choice.