In Memoriam : Antoine Choffel

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Antoine loved Cyrano.

A storyteller, a rhetorician, a swordsman, a great riposter, his words to the audience were arrows. He knew more than anyone that words have meaning but that without eloquence the best conclusions remain just paper.

He could throw the words out in bunches, or he could peel them off, carefully preparing the moment of the blow.

He liked to call us into his office on the eve of hearings to unfold his battle plan late into the night.

For each hearing that was going to be complicated, he drew on his universal culture to find the word, the Latin phrase, the quotation that would be his exordium or that would sign the end of the message.

We, faithful grunts, listened to his gushes.

One day he said to one of us before a hearing that was going to be very complicated: "I’d like to start my argument with this sentence from Cyrano: "It’s much more beautiful when it’s useless. Isn’t that too much in your opinion?".

Each time he returned from a hearing, he would tell us about the fight and often ended his remarks with this sentence: "How sweet it is from the shore to see the ship sink".

Everything began and ended at Savy’s, his own Ragueneau, around a rib of beef and straw potatoes, replaying the day’s battle over and over.

His decisions sound like the battles and victories of Napoleon:

  • Yves Saint Laurent Parfums,
  • Javico,
  • Image chèque,
  • the fight for rail freight,
  • Roquette Frères,
  • Sony and its plenary assembly ruling on the fairness of evidence,
  • its dismissal for Nintendo, Drouot,
  • and, again recently, its beautiful decisions for the AFP against Google.

In concentrations, the cases that interested him the most were the most complex ones where creativity was required, such as Total Fina/Elf and the Pernod Ricard cases (Seagram Spirits, Allied Domecq and V&S).

Sometimes alone, sometimes with excellent colleagues, but he left his mark on each case. Nothing was left to chance, he tirelessly searched for all the rulings himself, wanted to reread all the doctrines, lifting every stone to find the argument.

The quality of his writings and the acuity of his comments, always with measure, had enabled him to gain the esteem of the Authority and the Court.

He was one of the sharpest blades of the competition lawyers. His robe was his banner.

He loved his job passionately and his passion was contagious. He sent us to court very early on, telling us "if you argue with what I’m about to tell you, you win". As young lawyers, we became Christian, hoping to seek the laurels of glory at the bar.

He was full of life. Every day, he was on stage, at the firm, at the Authority or at the Court. His passion carried him to the stage during the UJA or Gide shows.

In life, on a daily basis, his motto was to work while having fun. There wasn’t a day when you couldn’t hear laughter coming out of his office, him re-enacting for the umpteenth time his favorite scenes from his favorite movies, affectionately imitating his associates and collaborators or going into crazy improvisations.

His working power was beyond measure. He could dictate fifty pages of a dissertation in one go, to his faithful assistant, without having to redo anything.

In speaking, in writing, everything was perfect.

Laugh, be free, was his motto.

He taught us everything. He passed on to us the values that guide us, which he wanted to perpetuate beyond anything.

He was our mentor, but first of all our friend. Behind the dress, there was a man of infinite tenderness and generosity.

Next to every great man, there is a great woman. Caroline was his accomplice, his muse, his cap.

His three children, his youngest, can be proud.

He went up too fast in the opaline moon, taking with him, without a fold, without a stain, his plume.

Emmanuel Reille, Dimitri Dimitrov, Franck Audran, Laura Castex, Julien Guinot-Delery and Yann Utzschneider

On behalf of the partners and collaborators of his team, present and former.

— This article was first published in L’actu concurrence.

Note

Authors

Quotation

Emmanuel Reille, Dimitri Dimitrov, Franck Audran, Laura Castex, Yann Utzschneider, Julien Guinot-Deléry, In Memoriam : Antoine Choffel, 22 March 2022, Concurrences N° 2-2022, Art. N° 105816, www.concurrences.com

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