France: Cartel Regulation

Last Updated: 23 September 2009
Article by Marc Lévy and Natasha Assadi-Tardif

Originally Published by Global Competition Review

French cartel regulation is no longer only based on sanctions but also on a dialogue that allows more pragmatism and weakens the structure of anti-competitive practices. The successful implementation of all the components of the French leniency programme has made the French competition authority tend to become a regulator, and this role will be further enhanced through the new competition authority.

A new more powerful authority

Regarding cartels, the principal competition authority with responsibility for enforcement is since 2 March 2009 the Competition Authority (the Autorité). It replaced the former Competition Council (the Conseil) pursuant to the Law on the Modernisation of the Economy (LME) of 4 August 2008. The Autorité is an independent administrative authority responsible for the analysis and regulation of competition in the French market under the relevant provisions of French and EU competition law. Investigations of cases referred to the Autorité are carried out by rapporteurs who, following a decision of the commercial chamber of the Cour de Cassation in 1999 – regarding the Conseil but transposable to the Autorité – do not participate in the deliberations of the Autorité but merely report to the Autorité in open session.1 This is to ensure full compliance with the requirements of article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

In virtue of the LME, the Autorité is endowed with more powers and extensive means. It has its own investigation services, the ability to go to court and the right to render, on its own initiative, opinions on competition-related issues. The investigation services are managed by a rapporteur général. The LME creates a conseiller-auditeur in charge of recording the parties' comments on the proceedings.

These changes should nonetheless not put into question the main positions taken in the past by the Conseil in particular as the Conseil's former president now heads the Autorité.

Certain practices have been excluded from the scope of the Autorité's jurisdiction. Indeed, the ordinance of 13 November 2009, that implements the LME, provides that the French minister of economy (the minister) is entitled to settle and order measures as regards practices that only affect local markets. The minister is in charge of such 'micro anti-competitive practices' if they do not come under articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty and if the combined turnover in France of all the undertakings concerned does not exceed €100 million and the turnover of each of the undertakings in France does not exceed €50 million.

Substantive test

Since the entry into force of the New Economic Regulations Act (NRE),2 the French substantive test, contained in article L420-1 of the French Code de Commerce (article L420-1 and the Code) prohibits concerted practices, agreements and alliances, express or tacit, between undertakings that have as their object or may have as their effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition in a market, and in particular those that aim to:

  • limit access to, or competition from, other undertakings;
  • interfere with price setting by market forces, by artificially favouring a rise or a fall;
  • limit or control production, markets, investment or technical development; or
  • share markets or sources of supply.

Anti-competitive practices committed directly or indirectly through the intermediary of a subsidiary situated outside the French territory are also expressly included within the scope of the prohibition.

The French competition authorities have traditionally considered proof of a demonstrable effect on competition is not necessary where the object of an agreement is to restrict competition. This position of principle has generally been confirmed by French courts, although a ruling by the Paris Court of Appeal3 overturned a decision by the Conseil on the basis that it had not been established that the frequent exchanges of price information between service station operators had any real effect on the pricing behaviour of the major petrol suppliers, namely Total, Shell, Esso and BP, on which fines totalling €27 million had been imposed.

The Conseil had found that repeated and frequent exchanges of sensitive price information had been taking place between motorway service station operators, that is, service stations had been exchanging information by telephone on the price charged for different types of fuel several times a week, and had been transmitting that information to their respective head offices.

This information had allegedly been used to determine the prices charged by operators on French motorways that, in line with previous decisions by the European Commission, was identified as a separate market.

As a result, prices had converged to a higher level than that which would have otherwise prevailed. The Conseil emphasised that these practices were particularly serious in the light of:

  • the oligopolistic nature of the market;
  • the fact that consumers of fuel on motorways are captive; and
  • the widespread nature of these practices, which had been carried out for some years, as admitted by service station managers when questioned.

The position of the Conseil on the object or effect criteria has been confirmed in two decisions in which the Conseil considered that the exchange of information involving trade secrets, in particular in an oligopolistic market, is in itself anti-competitive. These decisions were issued within a few days of each other respectively in the luxury hotel and wireless operator sectors.4 In these decisions, the Conseil stressed that sharing strategic information in an oligopoly artificially raises transparency among competitors and thus creates a collusive equilibrium distorting competition. In the luxury hotel case, the infringement only consisted of information exchange and the strategic information mainly included occupation rates, average prices per room and incomes relating to each available room. In the wireless operator case, it mainly included information on the number of subscriptions and terminations as well as market shares. The Conseil pointed out the information exchanged was confidential as the parties could not have had access to it in any other way and it was not shared with the customers. The following fines were imposed with respect to the exchange: €709,000 in the luxury hotel case and €92 million in the wireless operator case. The Paris Court of Appeal upheld these two decisions.5 However, the Cour de Cassation only partly upheld the wireless operator decision by stating that the previous decisions had failed to establish that the exchange of confidential information had either an anti-competitive object or an actual or potential anti-competitive effect, therefore underlining that the mere exchange of information is not anti-competitive per se.6 The 'remand' Court of Appeal rejected the appeal against the aforementioned Cour de Cassation decision. Another appeal before the Cour de Cassation is pending.

The effect of a practice on the market is taken into account by the de minimis rules that entered into force on 27 March 20047 and are largely modelled on the European Commission's Notice on Agreements of Minor Importance. Under article L464-6-1, agreements or practices: between actual or potential competitors (horizontal agreements) whose combined market share is less than 10 per cent; or between undertakings that are not actual or potential competitors (vertical agreements) whose respective market shares are less than 15 per cent, may be exempted from the application of article L420-1 on the grounds that they do not have an appreciable effect on competition.

However, where the parties' arrangements contain certain hardcore infringements, the agreement or practice does not benefit from the above exemption. For horizontal agreements, such hard-core infringement comprises price fixing, limiting production or supply, and market or customer sharing.

A happy family? – group undertakings

It is generally considered that article L420-1 does not apply to intragroup arrangements where subsidiaries lack any real commercial autonomy. In this respect, mention should be made of a decision where the Conseil imposed fines totalling €4.3 million on subsidiaries of the Air Liquide Group (Air Liquide) for anti-competitive practices in the hospital medical gas sector.8 In that case, the Conseil found that two subsidiaries of Air Liquide had engaged in market sharing and price fixing agreements in the years 1994 to 1996 while bidding to become suppliers of medical gases to public hospitals and private health-care establishments.

The Conseil noted that it was not illegal for the subsidiaries of the same group to agree on a sole bidder. However, here the two subsidiaries of Air Liquide had submitted two separate bids during a call for tenders and had thereby, according to the Conseil, presented themselves as two independent and competing companies on the market. In such circumstances, it was illegal for the subsidiaries to coordinate the terms and price of their respective offers as this misled hospitals as to the real degree of competition for the tender. It made no difference that those who had organised the tenders knew of the corporate links existing between the bidders.

Similar decisions were rendered more recently by the Conseil.9 In these decisions, the Conseil cited the Air Liquide decision as a precedent.

Penalties

The main penalties for breach of the prohibition contained in article L420-1 are fines of up to 10 per cent of worldwide turnover, or periodic penalty payments of up to 5 per cent of the daily average turnover for every day of delay in the implementation of either a decision of the Autorité or an injunction imposed by the Autorité, or both.10 Turnover to be taken into account for the calculation of fines will be the highest amount realised by the undertaking in any financial year during the period in which the practices took place. For the purposes of the French cartel rules, as with the penalties for breaches of article 81, the notion of undertaking extends to all group undertakings wherever situated. Article L464-2 of the Code was introduced by the NRE and has a significant effect on the penalties that may be imposed by the Autorité. Under the previous regime, the maximum penalty that could be applied to undertakings was 5 per cent of turnover in France for the preceding year. As a result, the total fines imposed by the Conseil has been as follows over the past six years:

  • 2001: €51.1 million;
  • 2002: €64.3 million;
  • 2003: €88.5 million;
  • 2004: €49.3 million;
  • 2005: €754.4 million;
  • 2006: €128.2 million;
  • 2007: €221 million; and
  • 2008: €631.3 million.

The 2008 figure includes the highest total fine imposed by the Conseil in the past six years, which occurred in a steel industry cartel case and amounted to €575million. This fine exceeded the wireless operators record fine of €534 million imposed in 2005. It seems that the serious fines policy implemented by the Conseil made it a very attractive forum which resulted in a great increase in the number of complaints lodged before the Conseil in 2008. This trend should be maintained with the creation of the Autorité.

French law has largely followed the case law of the European Court of Justice with regard to the continuity of the undertaking and the fines which may be imposed. Accordingly, where a business is acquired, the acquirer shall be responsible for all anti-competitive practices undertaken by the newly acquired business, irrespective of whether or not the infringements occurred before or after the acquisition. An acquirer of the business of an undertaking may not therefore rely upon the fact that it could not have prevented the undertaking from engaging in cartel activity prior to its acquisition of control.

It is interesting to note that the sanctions that may be imposed by the French competition authorities extend not only to undertakings, but also to individuals engaged in economic activities where fines of up to €3 million may be imposed for breaches of article L420-1. This provision is designed to cover sole traders who engage in cartel-type behaviour.

In addition to the civil or administrative sanctions applied to individuals and to undertakings, individuals may also be subject to criminal penalties amounting to fines of up to €75,000 and imprisonment for up to four years where they have 'fraudulently taken a personal and decisive action in the conception, organisation or implementation of the practices covered by article L420-1'.11 These penalties are not imposed by the Autorité, although the Autorité itself will generally refer the matter to the public prosecutor (the procureur de la république) for further investigation. While the criminal provisions are rarely involved, guidance on this application has been given in a decision of the Conseil requiring the procureur de la république to examine the possibility of bringing a criminal prosecution against the chairman of the Fédération départementale de la Boulangerie et Boulangerie Pâtisserie de la Marne (FDBP), a bakeries trade association in the Marne region of France, as a result of his active and decisive role in the establishment and implementation of a cartel among members of the FDBP.12

In its decision, the Conseil noted that three elements must be proven in order to impose criminal charges:

  • personal participation: it is not sufficient for the purposes of the criminal offence that the accused is a director of the undertaking concerned. There must be an active and personal role on the part of the accused in the conception, planning and implementation of the cartel;
  • decisive participation: the behaviour of the accused must be shown to have been decisive, and a causal link established in putting the anti-competitive behaviour into practice; and
  • fraudulent participation: the accused must have intentionally breached the relevant competition rules, which may be inferred as a result of a breach of other criminal practices, such as breach of trust, corruption, etc.

In this case, the Conseil considered that all three elements had been satisfied by the behaviour of the FDBP chairman and recommended bringing a criminal prosecution.

The FDBP chairman brought an action against the Conseil's decision to refer the case to the procureur de la république. This allowed the Paris Court of Appeal to hold, for the first time, that it is not competent to appreciate the decision of the Conseil to refer the case to the criminal authorities.13 The Paris Court of Appeal confirmed this position in a second decision, which will also be applicable to the Autorité's decisions in this regard.14 Thus, the Autorité's power to decide whether to refer the case or not is a discretionary one.

Blowing the whistle – leniency and reduction of fines

While the Autorité is in a position to commence investigations on its own initiative or following a complaint, an investigation can also be commenced as a result of a leniency application. The provisions have been strengthened since the enactment of the NRE.

Article L464-2 IV of the Code provides that undertakings may be exonerated from financial penalties either in part or in full where they have 'contributed to establishing the reality of a prohibited practice and to determine its authors, by providing elements which the Autorité or the administration were previously unaware of'. As with the procedure at EU level, it is necessary to provide new information to the competition authorities that will enable them to begin an investigation. Providing information that merely supports information already held by the authorities will not be sufficient to obtain full immunity from fines. Undertakings unable to satisfy the requirements for full immunity from fines can nevertheless apply for a reduction in fines.

Where an application for leniency is received by either the rapporteur général of the Autorité or, in certain rare cases, the directeur général of the DGCCRF (head of the Directorate General of the French Ministry of Economy in charge of Competition, Consumer Protection and Fraud Repression), the rapporteur that is appointed or the directeur général presents a request to the Autorité for a grant of leniency. Following this is a non-public hearing at which said applicant and the commissaire du gouvernement present their views. The Autorité then considers whether or not to grant leniency and, if it does, then grants full or partial leniency in respect of fines. The leniency procedure is a great and increasing success. 20 leniency applications have been submitted to the Conseil as at the end of 2007 and nearly the same amount (18) only in 2008.15 Four leniency decisions have been issued as of July 2009 and the first one was published on 11 April 2006, in the door manufacturing sector.16

The case involved 10 wooden door producers that implemented two national cartels. Nine of them were fined a total of €5 million while the whistle-blower was granted full immunity. The total amount of the fine imposed may not seem particularly high, but the cartelists did not have very high turnovers – from €5 million to €82 million – and the fines imposed on them ranged from 0.75 per cent to 1.87 per cent of their turnovers. The Paris Court of Appeal dismissed the claims of two wooden door producers who brought an appeal against the Conseil's decision.17

One of the leniency decisions was particularly interesting as the Conseil granted full immunity to two companies that had denounced the existence of the cartel. It held that they had both provided sufficient evidence enabling the Conseil to initiate proceedings as regards the denounced practices and to launch an inquiry in the relevant sector.18 However, it should be noted that these two companies were part of the same group. More recently, two leniency decisions have been issued by the Conseil, on 21 May 2008 in the wood industry sector and on 16 December 2008 in the steel industry.

On the date of its first leniency decision, the Conseil also published a procedural notice on the French leniency programme, later completed by an additional set of guidelines. A new version of this notice has been issued by the Autorité on 21 March 2009 and is very similar to the Conseil's notice. In this notice, the Autorité established four conditions that the applicant must meet to be eligible for leniency, as the law sheds no light on this point. The applicant:

  • must fully cooperate with the Autorité at every stage of the procedure;
  • should not have coerced any other member of the anticompetitive agreement to enter into it;
  • must have stopped participating in the anti-competitive practice as soon as the procedure is launched and at the latest when it receives the leniency notice, although the Autorité may postpone this date to prevent other members of the anti-competitive practice from becoming aware of the proceedings; and
  • must not inform the other parties to the anti-competitive practice of its leniency application.

The whistle-blower's name is thus kept secret, within the limits of the Autorité's domestic and EU obligations, until the statement of objections is notified. In addition, the Autorité undertakes not to refer the case of a leniency applicant to the procureur de la république under the criminal provisions mentioned above. The procedural notice also detailed the following points:

  • the grant of a marker to applicants allowing them to know their rank and thus the amount of fine reduction they may be entitled to;
  • clarification of conditions for obtaining total or partial exoneration, wherein the Autorité indicates the nature and the content of evidence and information applicants must provide to benefit from exoneration. The Autorité also underlines the way applicants must behave during the investigation phase;
  • guarantees concerning statements made by companies are reinforced: the Autorité provides a framework for the communication of these statements to ensure their confidentiality; and
  • the possibility to introduce a summary application with French competition authorities where the European Commission is likely to deal with the case. In such cases the amount of information the applicant must provide is alleviated, as long as the Autorité has not decided to act in the case.19

Undertakings can also benefit from fine reductions as a result of a party's not contesting the existence of the alleged practices. This procedure is also known as the 'negotiated settlement route'. In this case, the maximum fine that may be imposed is reduced by half. In addition to this reduced fine ceiling, if the undertakings also offer commitments to modify their behaviour in the future, the Autorité may grant a reduction to the actual fine.20 By way of illustration, the Conseil granted a 90 per cent reduction of the fine imposed on La Poste for anticompetitive discounts. La Poste did not contest the Conseil's allegation and submitted a set of substantial undertakings designed to prevent any recurrence of such behaviour.21 The Conseil also implemented this procedure in the cablemakers and in the laundry cleaning and renting sectors in which the companies involved were respectively granted a fine reduction of 10 per cent and 100 per cent as they offered highly innovative measures that had not yet been implemented in France, such as an internal 'whistle-blowing' procedure. 22 It appears from the existing cases applying the negotiated settlement procedure that, for the moment, the French competition authorities seem to have found the proportion of fine reduction to be granted depending on the companies' behaviour: companies that undertake to implement compliance programmes for their employees or executives may be granted a 10 per cent reduction; companies implementing a whistle-blowing procedure may be granted a 20 per cent fine reduction;23 and companies taking further commitments such as behavioural commitments may be granted a 30 per cent reduction.

Undertakings may also, since Ordinance 2004-1173 of 4 November 2004, offer commitments to remedy the situation and avoid a decision ruling on the existence of an infringement.24 Once said commitments are considered sufficient by the Autorité, and after receiving the observations of interested third parties, the commitments will form part of the binding decision of acceptance issued by the Autorité. This procedure has been implemented 28 times by the Conseil followed now by the Autorité, with two cases still pending before the Autorité, since its entry into force and has proved effective in solving competition concerns within a short-time frame.25 The Conseil restrained the application of such procedure in cases of horizontal agreements. However, in a case of collusion on various tenders, the Conseil applied such procedure and granted a 35 per cent reduction of the fine incurred. Nonetheless, the Conseil emphasised that this case should not be seen as setting a precedent allowing a party in a horizontal anti-competitive agreement to benefit from such procedure. This was due to the fact that the initiative for having collaborated with competition authorities preceded the introduction of the 'leniency procedure' into French law and the commitments offered by the parties were partially similar to those now required within such procedure. In addition, the Conseil underlined the significance of said commitments.26

The Autorité recently published a Procedural Notice on 2 March 2009, which is very similar to the one the Conseil had published about a year before and which is to give general advice to undertakings on how to use the commitments mechanism. It holds that the procedure should not be applied to particularly serious agreements such as cartels. It specifies that the commitments submitted have to be relevant, credible and verifiable. They also have to be necessary and sufficient to address the competition concerns. The Notice further guarantees that all the documents provided by the undertakings in the course of the procedure are removed from the file if the procedure is prematurely terminated. It ultimately specifies the effects of the decision making the commitments compulsory as well as the method for following up implementation of the commitments.27

Despite article 81 being fully applicable in France since 1 May 2004, the French leniency rules only apply in respect of breaches of article L420-1. No proposals have been made as yet to extend the leniency rules to cover breaches of article 81 and therefore in such circumstances it is always prudent to apply for leniency to the European Commission at the same time as making an application to the Autorité.

Raiding the offenders – investigation powers

As the LME gave the Autorité its own investigation services, the Autorité will no longer depend on DGCCRF officers to lead investigations except maybe for certain local investigations.

Once the Autorité is in charge of a case, either through a complaint or ex officio, a rapporteur will be appointed to conduct the investigations under the supervision of the rapporteur général. The rapporteur will instruct officers of the Autorité to conduct further investigations, which may often take the form of dawn raids. In such circumstances, two procedures are followed:

  • the ordinary investigation (article L450-3 of the Code): any of the officers of the Autorité may access business premises to request copies of business documents. This includes access to computers and the ability to conduct interviews. Failure to comply with such requests renders individuals liable to fines of up to €7,500 and up to six months' imprisonment; and
  • the judicial investigation (article L450-4 of the Code): where the officers of the Autorité wish to conduct searches and seize documents from either business or domestic premises, they must obtain a warrant from a judge. Raids carried out under warrant must be carried out in the presence of a police officer and, in the absence of the representative of the company, two independent witnesses.

The attendance of external lawyers was not provided for by French law and in practice their presence was thus a privilege and not a right until recently. However, the ordinance implementing the LME includes the right for a company facing a judicial investigation within its premises to be assisted by an external lawyer.

The criminal chamber of the Cour de Cassation has confirmed that a national judge may only find against a decision by the Commission ordering an inspection and seeking the assistance of the French authorities where such a course of action would be arbitrary or disproportionate.28 On the other hand, the judge cannot substitute its own assessment, as to the need for such an inspection, for that of the Commission. As such, the case law of the Cour de Cassation is in line with the ruling of the European Court of Justice in case C-94/00, Roquettes Frères v Commission.

Once the officers of the Autorité have completed their investigations, the rapporteur either prepares a statement of objections or proposes a decision that there is no case to pursue. The parties shall then have two months in which to access the case file and present their observations. In the case of a proposed decision that there is no case to pursue, the Autorité shall then either agree or request further investigation.

Where a statement of objections has been issued and the parties have submitted their observations, the Autorité shall prepare a draft report, which is communicated to the parties. The parties shall then have a further two months in which to comment on the proposed report. Following this phase, the Autorité issues its decision.

Footnotes

1 Cour de Cassation, 5 October 1999, TGV N ord et Pont de Normandie.

2 Act N o. 2001-420 of 15 May 2001, 'loi relative aux nouvelles régulations économiques'.

3 Paris Court of Appeal, Judgment of 9 December 2003, against the former Conseil de la concurrence's decision 03-D-17 of 31 March 2003.

4 Conseil de la concurrence, decisions 05-D-64 of 25 November 2005 ('relative à des pratiques mises en oeuvre sur le marché des palaces parisiens') and 05-D-65 of 30 N ovember 2005 ('relative à des pratiques constatées dans le secteur de la téléphonie mobile').

5 Paris Court of Appeal, 1st ch, sect H 26 September 2006 (rejected the appeal against decision 05-D-64). Paris Court of Appeal, 1st ch, sect H 12 December 2006 (rejected the appeal against decision 05-D-65).

6 Commercial chamber of the Cour de Cassation, 29 June 2007. Paris Court of Appeal, 11 March 2009.

7 Article 24 of the Ordinance of 25 March 2004 amending article L 464-6 of the C ode.

8 Conseil de la concurrence, decision 03-D-01 of 14 January 2003 ('relative au comportement de sociétés du groupe Air L iquide dans le secteur des gaz médicaux').

9 Conseil de la concurrence, decisions 05-D-04 of 17 February 2005; 05- D-17 of 27 April 2005; 05-D-26 of 9 June 2005 and 05-D-47 of 28 July 2005. Second and fourth decisions were partly overturned by Paris Court of Appeal decisions of 13 December 2005 and 25 April 2006 but these decisions did not affect the principle applied by the Conseil on intra-group anti-competitive agreements.

10 Article L 464-2 I and II of the C ode.

11 Article L 420-6 of the C ode.

12 Conseil de la concurrence, decision 04-D-07 of 11 March 2004 ('relative à des pratiques relevées dans le secteur de la boulangerie dans le département de la Marne').

13 Paris Court of Appeal, 1st C H, sect H, 26 October 2004.

14 Paris Court of Appeal 1st C H, sect H, 22 February 2005. Appeal of the Conseil's decision N o. 04-D-39 of 3 August 2004.

15 Conseil de la Concurrence, Activity Report 2007.

16 Conseil de la concurrence, decision 06-D-09 of 11 April 2006 ('relative à des pratiques mises en oeuvre dans le secteur de la fabrication des portes').

17 Paris Court of Appeal. 1st C H, sect H, 24 April 2007, rejects the appeal against Competition Council decision 06-D-09 of 11 April 2006.

18 Conseil de la concurrence, decision 07-D-48 of 18 December 2007 ('relative à des pratiques mises en oeuvre dans le secteur du déménagement national et international').

19 Procedural notice of 17 April 2007.

20 Article L 464-2 III of the C ode.

21 Conseil de la concurrence, decision 04-D-65 of 30 November 2004. See also Decisions 03-D-10 of 20 February 2003; 03-D-45 of 25 September 2003; 04-D-30 of 7 July 2004; 04-D-37 of 27 July 2004; 04-D-42 of 4 August 2004 and 05-D49 of 28 July 2005; 07-D-02 of 23 January 2007; 07-D-21 of 26 June 2007; 07-D-26 of 26 July 2007; 07-D-33 of 15 October 2007; 07-D-40 of 23 November 2007; 07-D-48 of 18 December 2007; 08-D-13 of 11 June 2008.

22 Conseil de la concurrence, decisions 07-D-21 of 26 June 2007 and 07-D-26 of 26 July 2007.

23 Conseil de la concurrence, decision 08-D-13 of 11 June 2008 ('relative à des pratiques relevées dans le secteur de l'entretien courant des locaux').

24 Article L 464-2 I of the Code.

25 Conseil de la concurrence, decisions 05-D-12 of 17 March 2005; 05-D-16 of

26 April 2005; 05-D-25 of 31 May 2005; 05-D-29 of 16 June 2005; 06-D-01 of 7 February 2006; 06-D-20 of 13 July 2006; 06-D-24 of 24 July 2006; 06-D- 28 of 5 October 2006; 06-D-29 of 6 October 2006; 06-D-40 of 20 December 2006; 07-D-07 of 8 March 2007; 07-D-17 of 10 May 2007; 07-D-22 of 22 July 2007, 07-D-30 of 5 October 2007; 07-D-31 and 07-D-32 of 9 October 2007; 07-D-43 of 10 December 2007; 07-D-45 and 07-D-46 of 13 December 2007; 08-D-04 of 25 February 2008; 08-D-21 of 7 October 2008; 08-D-26 of 5 N ovember 2008; 08-D-34 of 24 December 2008; 09-D-01 of 12 January 2009; 09-D-08 of 16 February 2009; 09-D-11 of 18 March 2009.

26 Conseil de la concurrence, decision 07-D-02 of 23 January 2007 ('entente dans le secteur de la collecte et du traitement des déchets en Seine Maritime').

27 Procedural notice of 3 April 2008.

28 Criminal chamber of the Cour de Cassation, N os. 98–30 389 and 00–30 180, 22 October 2003.

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.

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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.

Disclaimer

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.

General

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