Notable Belgian cassation lawyers
Lawyer at the Court of Cassation of Belgium
president of the bar from 1898 – 1900- and from 1916 – 1917
Edmond Picard, one of the most versatile, fascinating and controversial figures of the Belgian fin de siècle, was born in Brussels on 15 December 1836 to a Luxembourg father and a Dutch mother. He was a sailor, jurist, lawyer (at the bar of the Court of Appeal in Brussels and at the Court of Cassation), President of the Bar (of the latter), professor of law (at the Université Nouvelle, co-founded by him and existing in Brussels from 1894 to 1919), senator (for the Belgian Workers’ Party), art connoisseur (a. o. founder of the magazine “The New World”), author of the “New World”. a. founder of the magazine L’Art Moderne) and patron (a.o. of Auguste Rodin, which he had exhibited in his house), writer of plays, novels and travel stories, journalist (a.o. of Le Peuple), publicist and polemicist. His motto – “Je gêne” – will continue to haunt him, especially because of controversial and unfortunate anti-Semitic statements which, in the light of a historical perspective that he himself never knew, were, not without reason, particularly blamed on him. He died in Namur on 19 February 1924.
Picard started the 151-volume Pandectes belges in 1878. In 1881 he was, together with Ferdinand Larcier, the founder of the Journal des tribunaux, of which he was practically the only editor until 1900. The Codes Edmond Picard, named after him and later published “en concordance avec Les Pandectes belges et Les Novelles”, were the predecessors of the well-known Larcier law books and the series Law and Clarification of the same publisher.
Edmond Picard, who served his apprenticeship with Jules Lejeune (the later professor and minister for the Catholic Party who gave his name to the law on conditional release), had been a lawyer for no less than sixty years. His own trainees included the Walloon politician Jules Destrée (“Sire, il n’y a pas de Belges”), the poet Émile Verhaeren (of Toute la Flandre, among others) and the art connoisseur Octave Maus (co-founder of the art movements Les XX and La libre esthétique, in which Picard was also active). One of the co-workers in his office was the author Georges Rodenbach (of e.g. Bruges la morte).
Edmond Picard acted in controversial lawsuits of that time, such as the one before the correctional court in Paris as a defender of the writer and art collector Camille Lemonnier (whose novel Gil Blas allegedly violated good morals).
Together with Gustave Duchaîne, he wrote a Manuel pratique de la profession d’avocat en Belgique in 1869.
Picard was one of the first socialist senators. He promoted the first social legislation, the universal single vote and the Dutchification of Ghent University. Although he was an advocate of what he called l’âme belge, he was devoted to the Flemish cause and to the Dutch language.