The Frenchlaw web site was set up in 1998 as a not-for-profit venture with the aim of providing very limited background information, in English, on certain French law issues which often appeared counterintuitive to English-speakers but are regularly encountered by non-French nationals.
Thus, it does not in any way hold itself out to provide French law advice, but simply offers as a courtesy (and without any liability whatsoever on its part) to pass on enquiries from visitors to the site to one or more English-speaking lawyers in France who are active in the field of law in question and have some experience of understanding the culture of clients situated outside France.
The lawyers in question are situated in various parts of France and have historically been known to members of the Frenchlaw team as being able to work in English, to understand socio-cultural issues to a reasonable degree and to be relatively competent in the field of law in question.
Any lawyer/client relationship must thereafter be negotiated and agreed between the parties, totally outside any involvement with our site; and we have no knowledge whatsoever of the possible costs and fees charged to the potential client which are also agreed directly between the latter and the lawyer.
Our site has evolved over the years but still does not operate as a fully-fledged business, as it does not charge in any manner for providing such limited initial information or for passing on enquiries.
That said, because the cost of hosting and maintaining the site is a burden which needs to be met, as from January 2013, a number of new strategies have been under consideration, for example accepting paid advertisements.
However, as the leitmotif of the site is its independence, the principal policy i.e. that we will never accept paid adverts or sponsoring from any French lawyer, is unchanged.
Nevertheless, and with the aim of covering of our costs, a number of fresh ideas have been put forward by our new webmaster, David Hinchliffe.
David is British but has lived in France for nearly 40 years.
He trained as a Mechanical Engineer at the University of Manchester and worked on the Concorde aircraft project before moving to France to work in the turbo machinery and air handling industry
In 1986 David joined the British Consulate General in Lille where he was Vice Consul (Commercial) and for some 25 years he represented Her Majesty’s Government’s commercial interests in France.
Unfortunately, following the permanent closure by HM Government of the Consulate General in Lille for economic reasons in 2011, David was made redundant.
His consular work over time did though bring him into regular contact not only with lawyers and accountants throughout the whole of France, but perhaps more importantly with English-speaking companies which used the services of such professionals.
Over the years, David became fascinated with the reports he received as to the level and quality of service provided by French lawyers and has come up with the idea of setting up an objective rating system, not dissimilar to that used by a certain red bound French restaurant guide.
The aim of this rating system, known as “Les 3 rosettes,” is to be as objective as possible and thus it will not be possible to pay for any rating or for interested parties to influence the comments or ratings put forward.
These will be based solely upon reports received from individuals or entities that have actually used the services of French lawyers and we will go to great lengths to check on the sources and veracity of the reports.
The overall objective being to stimulate traffic to the site such that it be of interest to advertisers offering appropriate services relating to matters French and thus covering our costs.
Finally, in the interest of disclosure and transparency, it is mentioned that David has a number of personal friends who are French lawyers, notably Philip Jenkinson and Sylvie Bailleul of Triplet & Associés in Lille as well as a number of French Rotary Club members who are also lawyers.
That said, David makes very clear that, if any of the lawyers he knows personally are recommended by this site, this will be only after undertaking the same arm’s length and objective checks as any other lawyer; but that he considers that it would be unfair to exclude top quality lawyers simply because he knows them well or has worked with them in the past.