The Legal 500

France

Editorial

Legal market overview

The mood is grey in the City of Light these days despite most law firms reporting a small rise in turnover for 2013. Transactional activity is in steady decline and some believe the French market will never be the same again; it is now accepted that overseas deals – notably the African market – are the new transactional drivers for French law firms.

Anxiety in the market has, however, created a high demand for non-transactional advice. Restructuring and insolvency work have become the bread and butter of a majority of law firms as cases become larger each year. Litigation is also growing as large corporations are ensnared in major proceedings and banks are being called to account before courts, while global investigations are also increasingly common. White-collar crime is another concern across all disciplines and many companies are implementing compliance programmes.

Employment advice is absolutely thriving – one major player in that area reported a 40% increase in 2013 from an already high base – as the country debates the possibility of Sunday and late evening work. Tax law also hit the headlines in 2013 – one famous casualty being former budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac, who lost his government position following revelations of tax evasion. In arbitration, Linklaters LLP and Clifford Chance – two firms that had a relatively low profile in the field in France – considerably boosted their practice with major hires, moves which confirmed the reputation of Paris as a major international arbitration platform.

The continuous transactional decline is a challenge to the business model of many law firms as clients have adapted and increased their resources in-house. Fees and remuneration are major issues as panels and flat fees are becoming the rule. Two senior figures at the Paris Bar commented: the ‘lawyer profession is suffering: we work more to earn less’; the ‘real challenge now is to survive’.

As a result, some law firms are shrinking to specialise and move away from a commoditised market with high levels of competition. Regulatory law is becoming a major trend as regulatory activity has intensified across the EU and globally. Chasing growth in emerging markets such as Africa has become an alternative strategy for some.

Gide, the leading French law firm internationally in terms of lawyer numbers, lost many high-profile figures in 2013 including its top corporate teams – with one group creating its own boutique, BDGS Associés AARPI, and another joining Lacourte Raquin Tatar. Gide responded by hiring a 19-lawyer team from Morgan Lewis LLP.

There were also a number of very significant individual moves such as the high-profile Dominique Bompoint leaving Sullivan & Cromwell LLP to join Cabinet Bompoint and Maurice Lantourne quitting Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP to create Lantourne & Associés.

Linklaters LLP also lost its leading 15-lawyer capital markets team to White & Case LLP, which has emerged as arguably the most dynamic player currently in France – appointing 11 partners over a 12-month period. DLA Piper and King & Spalding LLP are also among the up-and-coming players, with both firms again making major hires in 2013.

A number of international firms also recently opened offices in Paris including Pinsent Masons LLP, Osborne Clarke and Brown Rudnick LLP. Risk specialised and boutique firms are also a major trend, while medium-sized French law firms are increasingly opening offices in the regions and overseas.

Global mergers have also impacted the French market: recent examples include Dentons and King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin, which both have offices in France.

The podium of law firms in France is made up of the following: French law firms Bredin Prat, Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier, Gide – which remains the largest French law firm internationally with some 600 hundred lawyers worldwide – and De Pardieu Brocas Maffei A.A.R.P.I; UK firms Allen & Overy LLP, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, and Linklaters LLP; and US firms Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP – which is widely regarded as the top US firm in France – along with Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, and White & Case LLP.

France also has a large and expanding market of high calibre medium-sized firms and boutiques, which addresses ‘a real need’, according to clients. Among these, the following are particularly noteworthy: Cotty Vivant Marchisio & Lauzeral, Franklin, De Gaulle Fleurance & Associés, Scemla Loizon Veverka & de Fontmichel (SLVF) are very good firms while newly created BDGS Associés AARPI, Cabinet Bompoint and Dethomas Peltier Kopf Juvigny also stand out, giving high-end advice.

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Legal Developments in France

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to
  • The new French regulation applying to national insurance contributions for managers and shareholders

    French insurance contributions on executive and shareholder remuneration (pay + dividends) have been substantially increased by the National Insurance Funding for 2013 Act, No. 2012-1404, of 17th December 2012. Until 31st December 2012, all dividends were subject to national insurance contributions on unearned income but henceforth, under Article L136-3 of the National Insurance Code, amended by Act No. 2012-1404, certain dividends   are considered as pay received by executives and shareholders and are therefore subject to the national insurance contributions on pay. The Act also abolished the ceiling on health insurance contributions payable by the self-employed and all this means that businesses must rethink the way that they have been structured until now.
  • CHINA - PERSONAL TAXATION AND SOCIAL SECURITY : CHINESE AND FOREIGN NATIONALS ON AN EQUAL FOOTING

    The People's Republic of China has initiated an overhaul of its social security system, reformed the personal taxation regime and has extended the scope of these laws to foreigners residing in China.
  • MOROCCO TO BECOME THE LEADING FINANCIAL PLACE IN AFRICA

    The Kingdom of Morocco is supporting the ambition of becoming the leading financial place for Africa. In this context, a wave of draft laws is to be passed and implemented within the following months, amongst which, the Law No. 53.08, setting up a new financial authority, and the Law No. 54.08, reforming public offering rules, are of paramount importance to Moroccan and foreign issuers, and financial institutions.
  • ACQUISITIONS IN CHINA : ASSET OR SHARE DEAL?

    The opportunities offered to foreign investors by the Chinese mergers and acquisitions market are increasing every year: in 2010, transactions involving foreign companies came to 60.1 billion euros, an increase of 21.2% compared with 2009. Seen from the West, where markets are declining, all sectors of the Chinese economy seem to be undergoing promising development and the statistics indicate that the Middle Empire will be a lasting springboard for growth.
  • Prime de Partage des Profits

    Le dispositif L’article 1er de la loi de financement rectificative de la Sécurité sociale pour 2011 oblige les sociétés commerciales de 50 salariés et plus, dont les dividendes par part sociale ou par action sont en augmentation par rapport à la moyenne des deux années précédentes, à verser une prime à l’ensemble de leurs salariés
  • BULGARIA MARKET OVERVIEW

    Types of investors The private equity (PE) funds that are active in Bulgaria are not raised or registered in the country. Some Bulgarian PE funds were raised recently, but there are no statistics as to the sources of their funding, their number, the funds that were accumulated, etc.
  • RECENT DEVELOPMENTS REGARDING COMMITMENTS

    THE PROCEDURE IS CLARIFIED, BUT MAY COMMITMENTS APPLY WITHOUT LIMIT?
  • Landmark decision by French Competition Authority in conditioned LPG case

    cartel case closed after discovery that leniency application was largely based on forgeries and rejection of collective dominant position objection.
  • 2012 supplementary budget

    The second supplementary budget published in the Official Gazette September 19, 2011 provides for two key measures that affect the deferral of tax losses and taxation of capital gains realized on the sale of equity securities .
  • Actualité législative fiscale

    Au delà des mesures applicables à l’ensemble des contribuables (telles que la limitation du report des déficits ou la réforme du mode de calcul des plus values sur cessions de participations),le plan de réduction des déficits annoncé le 24 août dernier par le gouvernement comprend des mesures qui intéressent spécifiquement les acteurs du secteur financier.

Press Releases worldwide

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  • P+P Pöllath + Partners berät die DATA MODUL AG, München, bei öffentlicher Übernahme durch Arrow

    Die DATA MODUL Aktiengesellschaft Produktion und Vertrieb von elektronischen Systemen mit Sitz in München („Data Modul AG“) steht vor einer öffentlichen Übernahme durch die Arrow Electronics, Inc. mit Sitz in Centennial, Colorado/USA. Deren Tochtergesellschaft Arrow Central Europe Holding Munich GmbH hat als Bieterin ein freiwilliges öffentliches Übernahmeangebot zum Erwerb sämtlicher Aktien der Data Modul AG zu einem Angebotspreis von EUR 27,50 je Aktie angekündigt. Dies entspricht einer Prämie von rund 36% auf den gewichteten durchschnittlichen Börsenkurs der Data Modul-Aktien während der letzten drei Monate.
  • VEGAS LEX continues to represent OGK-2 in its gas turbine engine quality dispute

    On January 14, 2015, the VEGAS LEX law firm won an appeal case in the Sixteenth Commercial Court of Appeals for the sake of the Second Generating Company of the Wholesale Power Market (OGK-2)* in a dispute over the quality of a gas turbine engine (GTD-110) supplied by NPO Saturn to compel the defendant to restore the equipment's operation after a breakdown. The court ordered NPO Saturn to repair the broken GTD-110, with the cost of repairs adding up to RUB1bln, which is comparable with the cost of new equipment.
  • VEGAS LEX helps collect lost profit for Khanty-Mansiysk Non-State Pension Fund

    On January 13, 2015, the VEGAS LEX Dispute Resolution Practice won a case in the Ninth Commercial Court of Appeals for the sake of the Khanty-Mansiysk Non-State Pension Fund* in a dispute over a trust management agreement with regard to the fund's pension reserves.
  • Positive Developments for the Economy of Cyprus

    Normal 0 false false false EN-GB X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 It has been around one year and a half since the Eurogroup decisions to recapitalise Bank of Cyprus via a bail-in on 25 th of March 2013. Cyprus has worked hard since then to exit the financial crisis and to maintain its status and reputation as an international financial centre. Within October 2014, several positive developments which took place suggest that Cyprus is on a good path. These positive developments include: /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif";}
  • Avellum Partners Advised Nadezhda Group on Corporate Restructuring

    Kyiv, 29 December 2014  - Avellum Partners advised Nadezhda Group ("Group"), operating in the liquefied petroleum and gas industry, on tax planning for holding structure of the Group, all legal and tax aspects of corporate restructuring and acquisition finance issues, aimed at obtaining finance from international finance institutions ("IFIs").
  • Avellum Partners Advised on Exchange Offer of Metinvest

    Kyiv, 14 January 2015  - Avellum Partners acted as Ukrainian legal counsel to Deutsche Bank AG, London Branch and ING Bank N.V., London Branch, who acted as Dealer Managers, in connection with the exchange offer of Metinvest B.V., the parent company of a vertically integrated group of steel and mining companies ("Metinvest") for its USD500 million 10.25% guaranteed notes due 2015, coupled with the new issue of USD289.7 million 10.5% guaranteed notes due 2017 ("Notes") under its USD1,500,000,000 Guaranteed Medium Term Note Programme and a 25% cash consideration. The Bank of New York Mellon, London Branch acted as the Exchange Agent. The Notes are listed and admitted to trading on the Global Exchange Market of the Irish Stock Exchange.
  • Gorodissky new practices

    In December 2014 the IP team of Gorodissky & Partners was joined by Valery Narezhny who will be in charge of the firm's new law practices such as taxes, customs and commercial laws. Valery graduated from Finance Academy under the Government of Russia (Moscow) majoring in "Finances and Credits" and the Academy of Law and Management (Moscow) majoring in "Civil Law", holds PhD degree in economics. He is specializing in taxes, currency, customs, labor and commercial laws and in court disputes. Valery started his carrier in the state bodies (Tax Policy Department, Ministry of Finance, and Government Administration), worked for a number of Russian and international law firms. He is author of more than 150 publications and 9 books on taxation and civil law issues. Valery Medvedev, Managing Partner, Gorodissky & Partners, commented: "It appears from our clients' enquiries that they are in the need to obtain consultations and professional advice relating not only to protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights but also to IP issues governed by taxes, labor, currency and commercial laws. Valery Narezhny having considerable experience and knowledge in these practices will no doubt enhance our team of lawyers and considerably enlarge the range of the firm's legal services"
  • HaoLiWen helps client resolve TP case with the customs

    HaoLiWen has advised a multinational client in a case of the customs challenge against import transfer pricing. Recently, this case was successfully closed. The customs has accepted the transfer pricing policies of the client.  The client has incurred no further import tax exposure, and the deposits put up with the customs for the shipments in question are to be refunded by the customs to the client.  
  • VEGAS LEX to support 2015 Jessup Moot Court Competition

    The VEGAS LEX law firm will support this year's Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, the largest and most prestigious law school competition, which will take place in Moscow from January 28 through February 1.
  • P+P Pöllath + Partners berät die Deutsche Bank und DN Capital bei Investitionen in Onlineportal Wi

    Der Onlinehändler Windeln.de hat seine bislang größte Finanzierungsrunde abgeschlossen. Mit einem Investitionsvolumen von insgesamt etwa EUR 45 Mio. beteiligten sich neben dem Hauptinvestor Goldman Sachs auch die bisherigen Geldgeber MCI Management, 360 Capital Partners, die Londoner Beteiligungsgesellschaft DN Capital sowie mehrere Deutsche Bank Fonds.