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.

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”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). 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 & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd 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 or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.