The French government just passed a law that changes the rules for companies that make a first time mistake in good faith concerning an administrative obligation: they can no longer be the object of a financial penalty or deprived of a benefit in repercussion of that first mistake! It's called "the right to error"! It however does not concern the obligations of an employer towards its employees, towards the Administration.

So, what is it?

The right to error rests on good faith: the burden of proof is reversed, it will be up to the administration to show that a person or company has demonstrated bad faith in making the error.

This is the possibility for every person or company to make a mistake in their statements to the administration without risking a penalty for the first violation. Everyone must be able to rectify - spontaneously or during a check - when the mistake is made in good faith.

However, this is not a total license to error: it does not apply to the repeat offenders nor to cases of fraud. The right to error is also not a right to delay: delays or omissions of reporting within the prescribed time limits do not fall within its scope.

The right to error, who is concerned?

  • all categories of citizens, whether natural or legal persons;
  • in all areas of public policy;
  • from the moment the mistake is made in good faith.

There are some common sense exceptions:

  • cases of fraud and repeat offenders;
  • any error that affects public health, the safety of persons or property;
  • any mistake that leads to the violation of European and international commitments.