Avocats.be, the French and German-language Bar Order, went before the Brussels Civil Tribunal on Monday, in summary proceedings. It requested a conservative measure to suspend lawyer’s client listings. These are lists of clients who pay VAT when they go to their lawyer, which the lawyers must pass on the tax department every year. Avocats.be says these listings are not obligatory, and violate lawyer’s professional confidentiality. “These only serve to allow the tax department to cross-check clients”, says Patrick Henry, president of Avocats.be.
The French and German-language Bar Order submitted an appeal to the Constitutional Court, but it passed the case on the European Union Court of Justice. Seeing as the case will not be properly dealt with for several months, the Order launched a summary proceedings lawsuit against the Belgian State at the beginning of last February. This was so that the lawyer’s client listings would be suspended before the issue was properly dealt with.
Lawyers must hand over these listings to the finance administration every year, on the 31st of March at the latest. Avocats.be thinks that its members should be relieved of this obligation, as it violates their professional confidentiality.
The Tribunal should make a decision by the 23rd of March. The OBV, the Flemish-language branch of avocats.be, will submit a similar request in a few days.