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NCJ Number: 68508 Find in a Library
Title: BANK CONFIDENTIALITY AND CRIMINAL LAW
Journal: REVENUE DE DROIT PENAL ET DE CRIMINOLOGIE  Volume:59  Issue:5  Dated:(MAY 1979)  Pages:433-449
Author(s): J P SPREUTELS
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 17
Format: Article
Language: French
Country: Belgium
Annotation: THE RECENT BELGIAN COURT DECISION THAT BANKERS ARE NOT SUBJECT TO PROFESSIONAL SECRECY IS ANALYZED.
Abstract: ON OCTOBER 25, 1978, THE BELGIAN SUPREME COURT OF APPEAL RULED THAT ARTICLE 458 OF THE BELGIAN CRIMINAL CODE WHICH PROTECTS PROFESSIONAL SECRETS DOES NOT APPLY TO BANKERS. ALTHOUGH FRENCH AND BELGIAN COURTS HAVE RECENTLY HANDED DOWN CONTROVERSIAL DECISIONS REGARDING THE PROFESSIONAL CONFIDENTIALITY OF STOCKBROKERS AND ACCOUNTANTS, THE DECISION THAT BANKERS ARE NOT BOUND TO PROFESSIONAL SECRECY HAS EVOKED THE MOST VIOLENT CONTROVERSY. IT HAS BEEN ARGUED THAT IT IS NECESSARY FOR CLIENTS TO IMPART CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION TO THEIR BANKERS AND THAT BANKS HAVE A MONOPOLY IN PARTICULAR TYPES OF TRANSACTIONS. COUNTERARGUMENTS, WHICH PREVAILED, EMPHASIZE THAT BANKERS DO NOT RECEIVE CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION IN THE SAME WAY LAWYERS OR MEDICAL DOCTORS DO. CLIENTS DO NOT HAVE TO LAY OPEN THEIR ENTIRE SITUATION, BUT RATHER BANKERS GAIN INDIRECT INSIGHT THROUGH THE COMBINATION OF CUSTOMER TRANSACTIONS EXECUTED OVER A PERIOD OF TIME. ALSO, WHILE MEDICAL CONFIDENTIALITY IS DICTATED BY MORAL OBLIGATIONS AND THE PROTECTION OF MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL HONOR, BANKERS DO NOT EXECUTE SUCH A HIGH MORAL MISSION IN SOCIETY. AN EXAMINATION OF FRENCH AND BELGIAN LEGAL PROVISIONS AND RECENT COURT DECISIONS INDICATES THAT THE CONTROVERSIAL DECISION WAS FORESEEABLE AND IS IN ACCORDANCE WITH A RECENT TREND TOWARDS A NARROW INTERPRETATION OF THE PROFESSIONAL SECRECY. IN GENERAL, FRANCE DOES NOT APPLY PROFESSIONAL SECRECY TO ECONOMIST PROFESSIONS. IT IS CONCLUDED THAT, DESPITE THE COURT DECISION, BANKERS ARE STILL BOUND BY A MORAL (AND STRICTLY CIVIL) OBLIGATION TO DISCRETION WITH REGARD TO CUSTOMER INFORMATION. THE ARTICLE CONTAINS BIBLIOGRAPHICAL FOOTNOTES. --IN FRENCH.
Index Term(s): Appellate courts; Belgium; Criminal codes; France; Judicial decisions; Privileged communications; Professional conduct and ethics
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