‘The Villa Caprice Case’ and the lawyer’s ethics | Legal

The Villa Caprice case is a French film directed by Bernard Stora, which tells the story of a veteran and successful lawyer, played by Niels Arestrup, who accepts the defense of a well-known French businessman (Patrick Bruel) when he is accused of corruption in obtaining permits administrative to restore and inhabit a mansion on the coast of his hometown.

The film is very simple in its conception and in its plot development, but it has important assets in its favor: a script with brilliant dialogues, spectacular locations on the French coast and great performances by the leading trio (the initial duo is joined by the actress Irene Jacob in the character of the businessman’s wife). Likewise, it develops in detail the relationships between the main characters and the power game that is established between them as a result of the judicial investigation that is carried out on the mediatic businessman who is in charge of defending the experienced lawyer.

Although the film aims to make a fierce criticism of the administrative system, corrupt at all levels, which allows in theoretically democratic countries that justice is not the same for all, and alludes to how money and blackmail can buy and influence the The administrative apparatus of the state, the media and the judiciary itself, what is really interesting is the reflection on the morality of the characters and, more specifically, on how the values ​​or moral principles of some of them can be transformed. Thus, while the character of the businessman appears to us as someone individualistic, shrewd and accustomed to manipulating and controlling those close to him for the sole purpose of benefiting from them, the character of the lawyer, however, undergoes a transformation that he himself he ends up disgusting, betraying all the ideals to which he had devoted his career.

It is interesting how the film shows that pride, the desire for recognition or mere financial reward can lead the actions of lawyers, even the most capable, for the benefit of unjust causes. The film highlights how a lawyer who does not need that recognition or that money falls into the networks of his client and, despite feeling uncomfortable, works to prevent justice from being done. Along the way, the lawyer will give up his dignity and his ethics and harm those around him, including some clients who deserved his efforts.

The Villa Caprice case asks the viewer the question of why an intelligent man ends up selling himself to an unjust cause, and reminds us that one of the famous principles of Couture’s Decalogue of the Lawyer, which indicates that “law is an arduous fatigue put at the service of justice”, does not apply, in this case, to the protagonist of this story, given that the human condition makes us all, including lawyers, permeable to temptations and vanities that have nothing to do with the sense of justice A very interesting film that should be screened in law schools to make students and future lawyers reflect on the need and importance of ethics and values ​​in the exercise of our profession.

Jose Luis Luceño Olivaprofessor at Loyola Masters


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