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Searching and Seizing Evidence at Lawyers’ and Doctors’ Premises: Belgium, France and The Netherlands Put to the European Court of Human Rights Test

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image of European Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice

Search and seizure procedures at lawyers’ and doctors’ premises put pressure on professional secrecy. In order to protect secrecy Belgium, France and The Netherlands introduced procedural guarantees based on the interplay of the examining magistrate, the representative of the professional association and the lawyer or doctor. Although the actors are similar, the level of protection differs. Under the terms of the European Convention on Human Rights a minimal level of protection is nevertheless vital. This contribution compares the interplay between the actors in Belgium, France and The Netherlands and evaluates whether all three countries meet the minimal level of protection required by the European Court of Human Rights. It subsequently concludes that an evaluation based on human rights is blind at one eye: although the rights protected by professional secrecy are decently preserved, professional secrecy itself is not.

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Social Law, ku Leuven, Leuven, Belgium; 2: Institute of Social Law, ku Leuven, Leuven, Belgium Leuven Institute of Criminology, ku Leuven, Leuven, Belgium


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