Due to the current COVID19 epidemic, France has been under strict lockdown since 16 March 2020 and members of our office work mostly at home. Despite the situation, the firm’s activities continue on a regular basis. So we had to adapt.

Remote signature of documents

The legal profession in France has been using a Virtual Private Network of Lawyers which is a secure computer network, accessible through a secure token.

It is used for the electronic communications by lawyers, particularly in the context of the dematerialization of procedures with the courts but also to countersign and to secure the signature of private deeds.

Through this secure token, we also have access to an electronic legal act platform enabling us to dematerialize these operations. Our firm had already had the opportunity to use this platform when it was more convenient for clients not to travel but it wasn’t privileged.

Faced with the health crisis and the need to continue the various ongoing operations, we proposed our clients the use of this electronic service. This tool provides legal certainty and is accepted by all French administrations.

To date, we have used this service only in commercial law, to sign the articles of a new corporation or to effect a sale of business, but the electronic instrument of lawyer can be used in all areas of law: debt recognition, suretyship, lease contract, employment contracts, transactions between employee and employer, etc.

Completion of all online trade formalities

The French commercial courts also have an online formalities service that has allowed us, since the lockdown began, to register a company, deregister secondary establishments, to set up an establishment in France of a foreign company or to file annual accounts.

Registered letter with online acknowledgement of receipt

We have also experimented with another tool for notifying letters to our clients because French postal services are currently operating at a slow pace.

We opted for a 100% electronic solution which provides universal and remote identification of the recipient. This numerical solution is particularly interesting when it is necessary to give a specific deadline. This notification is made in a few minutes and not in days. This service complies with the legislation and is accepted by the authorities.

In summary

We see that we have the resources to carry on our activity effectively and sustainably through the digitalization of our business. We can draw all the positive consequences of this challenge.

The use of this tools is a real asset to our profession and even more in our international network of lawyers because it allows operations to be conducted without the need for clients to travel.

At present, all these dematerialized procedures offer health security since no physical contact occurs between the various interlocutors who act from home. We also note these dematerialized procedures are processed more quickly than in normal times.

In view of what is coming, we will likely generalize the use of this dematerialized practice. So, even in a latin country like France, it’s possible to do business without seeing, touching and feeling each other!

For more details, contact Odeon Avocats:

Emeline Eraud, Partner – eraud@odeonavocats.fr