France: The "French Bribery Act" That Is Soon To Be Enacted

The last version of the "French Bribery Act" gives more shape to the new provisions of the law and confirms that it contemplates to substantially change the legal anti-corruption scope in France.

Since March 2016, French parliamentarians have been examining what promised to be a new anti-corruption law that would represent a milestone event in the French history of anti-corruption landscape and a legal revolution (see our previous alert).

On 8 November 2016, the legislation has been definitively adopted by the French Parliament but has not yet been enacted because it has been submitted to the French Constitutional Council on 15 November 2016. The latter must rule within one month, and if it rules invalid certain provisions of the legislation, three options are available: (i) the law could be enacted without the invalid provisions, (ii) the law could be discussed again before the Parliament, or (iii) the French Constitutional Council expresses reservations which will be taken into account by future implementing decrees.

At this stage, the contours of the law are well defined and one can more specifically contemplate great changes in the legal framework on the fight against corruption.

The newly defined roles and powers of the new National anti-corruption Agency

The new French anti-corruption Agency will be a truly innovative organisation headed by a Magistrate. The Agency will be invested with several missions that have been specified by the legislation:

  • Preparation of recommendations to assist public and private companies in preventing and detecting corruption;
  • Control, on its own initiative, of the quality and efficiency of the procedures implemented within State administrations and authorities in order to prevent corruption;
  • Monitoring of the implementation of specific compliance programs (see below).

Regarding the latter, the Agency will be invested with a toolbox of sanctions in case of non-compliance, among which have to be mentioned in particular (a) a financial sanction of up to €1,000,000 for legal persons as well as (b) the publication of the Agency's decision regarding the sanction.

Precise guidelines for the implementation of compliance programs

The new law aims at setting up a positive obligation on French companies to implement a compliance program. The targeted companies are those with at least 500 employees and a yearly turnover of above €1.000.000. The French Ministry of economy stated in its press release of 8 November 2016 that it expects to target about 1,570 companies.

The guidelines set forth by the new law regarding the compliance program provide that it must include:

  • A code of conduct defining and illustrating the different types of prohibited conducts that are likely to be considered as acts of corruption;
  • An internal whistleblowing system designed to collect reports made by employees relating to the existence of conduct or practices that are in breach of the company's code of conduct;
  • A risk mapping in the form of regularly updated documentation designed to identify, analyze and prioritize the risks of exposure of the company to external solicitations for corruption, in particular by taking into account the sector of activity and the location of the company's activities.
  • Procedures for assessing the situation of clients and suppliers with respect to risk mapping;
  • Internal or external accounting controls to ensure that books, records and accounts are not used to mask corruption;
  • Training for managers and staff most exposed to the risk of corruption;
  • A system of disciplinary sanctions in order to sanction employees in the event of a violation of the company's code of conduct;
  • A mechanism for internal monitoring and evaluation of the implemented measures.

Failure to implement such a compliance program could be sanctioned by the new anti-corruption agency as mentioned above (financial sanction up to €1,000,000).

In addition, in case of conviction for corruption, the judge can impose on the company the obligation to take appropriate steps to comply with the requirement of implementation of a compliance program under the close monitoring of the anti-corruption Agency.

A better defined disclosure of links of interests with lobbyists

The law contemplates to create a National registry of lobbyists. The latter are defined as "representatives of interest" and include any manager, employee or member of private or public companies whose main or regular activity is to influence public decision, in particular on the content of laws and regulations.

When a representative of interest liaises with a member of the Government, including the Prime Minister, parliamentarians, local elected officials, public officials, he/she will have to disclose his/her relationships with them and, in particular, the following information on the online register of the French High Authority for transparency in public life ('HATVP'):

  • For an individual, his/her identity, for a legal person, the identity of its directors;
  • The scope of his/her representation of interest's activities;
  • His/her actions of representation of interests and the amount of expenses related to those activities in the previous year;
  • The number of persons it employs in carrying out its task of representing interest and, where appropriate, the company's turnover for the previous year;
  • Professional or trade union organizations, or associations related to represented interests to which he/she belong to.

Regarding the disclosure of amount of expenses related to representation of interests' activities, one could question what would be precisely covered here; however, at this stage, the law is already one step ahead of the French Sunshine Act at the time of its adoption on 29 December 2011. The latter targets the disclosure of links between pharmaceutical companies and healthcare practitioners. It had first imposed on companies to publish only the existence of agreements, but not the amounts which remained confidential (i.e. fees for services, etc.). This has been reformed by the French law of 26 January 2016, which now requires pharmaceutical companies to also disclose the amounts included in their contracts with healthcare practitioners.

In addition to the disclosure obligation, the representatives of interest will also be imposed several ethic rules. The HATVP will be invested with injunction powers to oblige the representatives of interest to communicate the required information or to comply with the ethical rules.

Failure to comply with this new set of obligations may be punished by a fine of up to € 15,000 and imprisonment up to one year.

Recognition of a legal status for whistle-blowers and obligation for companies to put in place a whistleblowing system

Under the new legislation, a whistle-blower is defined as an individual who discloses or reports in good faith and selflessly, a crime or offense, a serious and manifest infringement of an international commitment, an unilateral act of an international organization on the basis of the latter commitment, law or regulation, or serious threat or prejudice to the public interest of which he/she has been personally aware.

Facts, information or documents covered by the military secrecy, medical secrecy or the attorney-client privilege are excluded from the whistleblowing regime.

A specific obligation is imposed on public and private companies of at least 50 employees: they have to put in place appropriate procedures regarding whistleblowing systems, which constitutes an important cultural shift in France as so far, ethical alert lines were merely considered as the transposition tool in France of the Sarbanes-Oxley.

The legislation also ensures the legal protection of the whistle-blower by prohibiting any retaliation sanction, discrimination or unfavourable disciplinary measure pronounced against him/her.

Determination of the maximum amount in off-setting agreements in case of prosecution

The law establishes the possibility of an off-setting agreement that may be proposed by the Public prosecutor to a company before its prosecution. A judge will review the legality of this off-setting agreement during a public hearing.

In this procedure, the company will have to pay a fine to the Public Treasury, the amount of which is proportionate to the benefits derived from the breaches found within the limit of 30% of its annual turnover. In addition, for a period up to 3 years and under the control of the French anti-corruption Agency, the company will have to implement a compliance program (see above).

The fine will not be registered in the National criminal records, but the off-setting agreement will be published on the website of the French Anti-Corruption Agency and will be mentioned in a press release.

In that respect, the price of avoiding prosecution may be much higher than the fines actually at stake in case of conviction. In addition, such off-setting agreement will not hinder prosecution against individuals involved in the same case.

Sanctions remain unchanged

Without the off-setting agreements which imply the payment of a significant fine, the sanctions related to corruption have not been amended by the new law.

For individuals, the principal penalties for corruption offences are imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine of up to €1 million or twice the profits drawn from the offence. There is no clear guidance as to how to assess such a profit yet.

Concerning companies or organisations, the principal penalty is a fine of up to €5 million for corruption. Other penalties that can be imposed on companies include temporary or definitive prohibition to carry out the business or debarment from public tenders, which is a separate but quasi-automatic additional penalty that does not exist in other regulations.

Extension of the territoriality of the French law

To date, French companies and individuals could be prosecuted for acts of corruption committed abroad and convicted in France. Now, the new law also apprehends any company which carries out all or part of its activities in France and also a foreign National who ordinarily resides in France. This extension makes it possible to sanction a foreign National at the head of a company located in France to which the French criminal law is applicable.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions