The use of private sources of capital to fund litigation is neither expressly permitted under French law nor customary. Whilst legal protection insurance (assurance protection juridique) is authorised in France, it only applies in the context of insurance matters.
Legal protection insurance covers the costs of proceedings which are incurred by the insured and may also entitle the insured to other services arising from the advice or defence of its rights. With the exception of legal protection insurance, the payment of a lawyer's fees by third parties is generally viewed with suspicion.
Article 11.3 of the French bar rules (Réglement Intérieur National) provides that:
"Avocats can only receive payment from their clients or a person who has been granted powers of attorney by their client."
The Paris Bar rules (Réglement Intérieur du Barreau de Paris) forbid lawyers being paid by a third party "if they know that such third party is not aware of the circumstances of such payment or if on the occasion of this payment this third party was acting against the law, regulations and against its bylaws, if applicable." (Article 11.6.01)
Third party funding is not a major issue in France at the moment. This may be because litigation is not typically as costly in France as in other jurisdictions and because of the absence of punitive or exemplary damages.