Comparative Guides
Welcome to Mondaq Comparative Guides - your comparative global Q&A guide.
Our Comparative Guides provide an overview of some of the key points of law and practice and allow you to compare regulatory environments and laws across multiple jurisdictions.
Start by selecting your Topic of interest below. Then choose your Regions and finally refine the exact Subjects you are seeking clarity on to view detailed analysis provided by our carefully selected internationally recognised experts.
Results: 4 Answers
Anti-Corruption & Bribery
2.
Definitions and scope of application,
2.1
How is ‘public corruption’ or ‘bribery of a public official’ defined in the anti-corruption legislation?
 
France
The bribery of French public officials is a criminal offence under French law. French law distinguishes between ‘active’ and ‘passive’ corruption involving public officials, which are both viewed as criminal offences. These offences cover public officials who solicit or accept a bribe and private individuals who attempt to bribe a public official.

The corruption offence is characterised by the act of soliciting or agreeing to a bribe, irrespective of whether:

  • the bribe is actually paid;
  • the action is performed;
  • the beneficiary of the bribe is the public official himself or herself; or
  • the briber is the ultimate beneficiary of the action or abstention of the recipient of the bribe.

Active corruption is committed by a person who bribes a public official. The offence is broadly defined as the proposal or offer by any person, directly or indirectly, of an undue advantage to a public official with the purpose of inducing that official to act or refrain from acting in relation to the performance of the official’s position, function or mandate.

Passive corruption is committed by a public official who is bribed. The offence is defined as the act of a public official to solicit or agree, directly or indirectly, an undue advantage as a reward for carrying out (or having carried out) or refraining from carrying out (or having refrained from carrying out) an act in relation to that official’s position, function or mandate.

The offence of bribery of a public official has been the object of harmonisation within the European Union, in particular through the Convention on the Protection of the European Communities’ Financial Interests and its Protocols, which differentiates between active and passive corruption of public officials, defines an ‘official’ (at both national and European levels), and harmonises the penalties for corruption offences.

For more information about this answer please contact: Jean-Baptiste Poulle from Spitz Poulle Kannan
2.2
How is a ‘public official’ defined in the anti-corruption legislation? How is a ‘foreign public official’ defined?
 
France
French criminal law defines a ‘public official’ as any person:

  • holding an elected public office, such as a mayor or a regional adviser;
  • holding public authority, such as a police officer, a justice of the peace, a police commissioner, a prefect of a region or a deputy prefect; or
  • exercising a public service mission, such as a judicial liquidator agent, an employee of Electricité de France or an official of a prefecture.

French criminal law defines a ‘foreign public official’ as any person performing functions in a foreign country or within a public international organisation:

  • holding a public elected office;
  • holding public authority; or
  • exercising public service duties.
For more information about this answer please contact: Jean-Baptiste Poulle from Spitz Poulle Kannan
2.3
How is ‘private corruption’ or ‘bribery in the private sector’ defined in the anti-corruption legislation?
 
France
Passive and active private bribery are broadly defined in the same manner as public bribery, except that private bribery involves persons who are not public officials (see question 2.1).

For more information about this answer please contact: Jean-Baptiste Poulle from Spitz Poulle Kannan
2.4
How is ‘bribe’ defined in the anti-corruption legislation?
 
France
Broadly, a ‘bribe’ may be any offer, promise, donation, gift or any advantage proposed or solicited for the performance of an act or abstention by the person being bribed, in accordance with the definition of the relevant offence as provided by the French Criminal Code (see question 2.1).

According to the French courts, the following advantages may characterise a bribe:

  • payment of a sum of money;
  • donation of an object of value;
  • payment of a debt;
  • granting of a loan;
  • supply of goods;
  • performance of work under abnormal economic conditions;
  • granting of an internship or permanent job;
  • invitation to a meal or entertainment such as tickets to a show or sporting event;
  • payment of commissions on the benefits provided to the corrupt agent; and
  • promise of a higher salary.
For more information about this answer please contact: Jean-Baptiste Poulle from Spitz Poulle Kannan
2.5
What other criminal offences are identified and defined in the anti-corruption legislation?
 
France
Public corruption offences are included in the category of offences that constitute a breach of the ‘duty of probity’. This category also includes the following offences:

  • extortion by public officials;
  • influence peddling;
  • unlawful taking of interest;
  • favouritism; and
  • misappropriation of public funds.

The Sapin II Act has extended the scope of the influence peddling offence in order to prohibit influence peddling of foreign and international public officials (the offence previously covered French public officials only).

For more information about this answer please contact: Jean-Baptiste Poulle from Spitz Poulle Kannan
2.6
Can both individuals and companies be prosecuted under the anti-corruption legislation?
 
France
Yes, as matter of principle, legal entities may be held criminally liable for any offence committed on their behalf, by their management or by their legal representatives. Such liability does not exclude the criminal liability of individuals who are perpetrators of or accomplices to the same offence.

For more information about this answer please contact: Jean-Baptiste Poulle from Spitz Poulle Kannan
2.7
Can foreign companies be prosecuted under the anti-corruption legislation?
 
France
Foreign companies may be prosecuted under French criminal law in situations such as the following:

  • The foreign company has committed an offence in France;
  • The foreign company is an accomplice to a crime or offence committed in France; or
  • The victim of the offence committed by the foreign company is a French national, where the offence is punishable by imprisonment.

The application of the French criminal law involves both the jurisdiction of the French courts and the application of French laws relating to the punishment of offences and procedural rules.

For more information about this answer please contact: Jean-Baptiste Poulle from Spitz Poulle Kannan
2.8
Does the anti-corruption legislation have extraterritorial reach?
 
France
As a general principle, French criminal law applies to the perpetrators of an offence committed within the territory of the French Republic (French courts have a broad interpretation of this rule).

By way of exception, French anti-corruption legislation may have extraterritorial reach in certain circumstances. Broadly, French criminal law is applicable to offenders who commit an offence outside France where certain conditions under the French Criminal Code are met.

For instance, French criminal law will apply where:

  • the victim is a French national or the perpetrator is a French national;
  • the act committed constitutes an offence both in France and in the foreign jurisdiction; and
  • the French public prosecutor has initiated the proceedings following a complaint by either the victim or the competent foreign authority.

Furthermore, French criminal law applies to accomplices acting within the French territory of offences committed abroad, provided that:

  • the act is an offence both in France and in the foreign jurisdiction; and
  • a final judgment in the foreign jurisdiction has established that the offence was committed.

The Sapin II Act has facilitated the prosecution of bribery and influence peddling offences committed abroad. As a result, by way of exception, French law may also apply to:

  • perpetrators of bribery and influence peddling offences committed outside France, provided that the perpetrator is a French national, a French resident or any person carrying out, in whole or in part, any business in France; and
  • accomplices in France of acts of corruption committed abroad, provided that the acts constitute an offence both in France and in the foreign jurisdiction.
For more information about this answer please contact: Jean-Baptiste Poulle from Spitz Poulle Kannan