Firm Profile > Bredin Prat > Paris, France
Bredin Prat Offices
53 QUAI D'ORSAY
Bredin Prat > The Legal 500 Rankings
The largest French and international corporations turn to Bredin Prat for their most complex and high-stakes cases. The team managing a busy caseload, spanning high-profile commercial, financial, corporate and industrial matters. It is particularly excellent at dealing with shareholder conflicts and M&A-related cases, with a number of outstanding M&A transactions in the portfolio. In the commercial field, the practice is regularly involved in disputes directly opposing leading corporations. The practice also acts in high-stakes cases that require expertise in complex regulatory and commercial issues, with its defence work for Airbnb in lawsuits initiated before French commercial courts by the City of Paris and hotel industry players, which gave rise to a referral to the European Court of Justice, a prime example. Insolvency-related cases are also taken on. The practice is co-headed by Jean-Daniel Bretzner, Florian Bouaziz, Sébastien Prat and Eve Duminy.
‘The firm is an undisputed heavyweight player in the Paris litigation scene. We have been impressed by the depth of their analysis. The firm is well equipped to handle complex cross-border cases as well.’
‘Partner Florian Bouaziz is a great commercially-minded lawyer. The team of senior associates Romain Dethomas and Samuel Daniau is equally great.’
Rothschild & Co
Bredin Prat has extensive experience in stock market and listed companies’ litigation. Among the group's high-profile cases are defences of leading companies facing proceedings launched by minority shareholders challenging a significant M&A transactions approved by the French securities regulator (AMF) and a number of matters involving the defence of companies or their high-level executives facing AMF investigations pertaining to insider trading and communication of misleading information allegations. Eric Dezeuze, senior partner Didier Martin and Sébastien Prat as well as litigators Jean-Daniel Bretzner and Ève Duminy are the key contacts.
A high-profile client base, made of top French and international companies or their executives, turns to Bredin Prat for its most sensitive cases in relation to various matters: corruption, bribery, embezzlement, market abuse allegations, criminal employment law and environmental law issues. The practice is in charge of many of France’s most outstanding current white-collar crime cases. It notably defends banks and leading corporations in high-stakes tax money laundering cases. Practice head Eric Dezeuze is one of the country's top white-collar crime lawyers. Also recommended is Guillaume Pellegrin.
Other key lawyers:
‘Eric Dezeuze is a great professional who is respected by the entire profession and whose competence is recognised by magistrates. His loyal lieutenant Guillaume Pellegrin is astute, available and is also enjoying real renown in the small French world of business criminal law. The junior lawyers are also of an excellent level.’
France > Employment Tier 1
Bredin Prat ’s team assists a highly prominent client base, including many large French and global players, many of whom recently entrusted large-scale restructuring and downsizing projects to the group. The practice also has in-depth expertise in handling the employment law aspects of the firm’s leading M&A transactions, regularly involving listed companies. Strategic disputes and mass litigation are also handled, with the high-stakes disputes for Uber pertaining to the employment contract status of Uber’s self-employed drivers as a recent example. The team also assists clients with sensitive individual litigation involving former executives. The highly regarded Pascale Lagesse directs the practice. Cyril Gaillard, Laëtitia Tombarello and counsel Jérôme Cordier are also excellent. The team recently hired one of France’s leading employment law professors in Paul-Henri Antonmattei who joined in Autumn 2020.
‘Quick understanding and in-depth analysis of situations; very business-oriented ability to respond quickly across the entire labor law spectrum.’
‘The team delivers high-quality work and deadlines are always kept; high availability and responsiveness.’
“A close-knit and efficient team which listens to the client and looks for the best result in the interest of the client; an always combative and optimistic team.’
‘A flexible, fast partner who always listens to us. Pascale Lagesse always provides prudent and fair advice. ’
Groupe PSA Peugeot Citroën
The sizable team at Bredin Prat is an outstanding practice, known for its work advising international clients and French blue-chip companies in the high-tech and luxury sectors on merger control, private damages claims, and antitrust litigation. Members of the team act on some of the most complex, high-profile matters for the French Competition Authority and the European Commission. Olivier Billard is known for his state aid practice, while Hugues Calvet is an expert in antitrust litigation. Marie-Cécile Rameau covers all areas of competition law, including investigations. Yelena Trifounovitch is an expert in regulated sectors; Pierre Honoré is head of the Brussels office and splits his time between Paris and Brussels; and counsel Guillaume Fabre is highly experienced in state aid and merger control cases. The team was further strengthened by the arrival of Igor Simic, who brings particular expertise in antitrust litigation and cross-border merger control, from Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier in January 2021.
Hugues Calvet; Olivier Billard; Marie-Cécile Rameau; Yelena Trifounovitch; Pierre Honoré
Johnson & Johnson
LVMH – Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy
PSA Peugeot Citroën
Widely recognised as one of the leading practices in France, Bredin Prat has a stellar record across public and private M&A, including on mandates involving private equity. Active across all market segments, large-cap and jumbo-cap mandates make up a considerable proportion of the caseload, although the team is involved in a number of small-cap and mid-cap deals. The firm's strong reputation on the domestic market is complemented by a top cross-border offering on both inbound and outbound transactions, working closely with its 'Best Friends' network of other independent firms in Europe. As part of a full-service offering, the group can seamlessly call on experts in tax, antitrust, employment, financing and litigation to provide a holistic service. Representing clients across a broad range of sectors, the practice is nevertheless well known for its experience in banking, retail and energy. The group features one of the deepest benches on the market; Olivier Assant, Sophie Cornette de Saint Cyr, Patrick Dziewolski, Clémence Fallet, Florence Haas, Benjamin Kanovitch, Matthieu Pouchepadass, Sébastien Prat and Kate Romain are among the key contacts.
‘Bredin Prat has an exceptional M&A team, supported by very strong practices in all areas of the law required to deliver an M&A transaction in its various components (corporate, tax, competition, financing, labor law, etc.) as well as in banking and financial regulation.’
‘The firm has an excellent network of foreign correspondents (the Best Friends), and is particularly well equipped to intervene in cross-border transactions.‘
‘Matthieu Pouchepadass is a creative lawyer with very good commercial sense.‘
‘Superb, light touch, not overly geared with a large number of associates vs partners.‘
‘Alexander Blackburn was superb, he represented us with a calm and pragmatic approach.‘
‘The firm offers a full range of skills and expertise in business law, offering a personalized and tailor-made service that meets all legal needs, in their national and international aspects.‘
‘Olivier Assant is the firm’s essential lawyer. He is particularly distinguished by the quality of his listening skills, by the quality of his advice and by his ability to understand the specificities and issues of our sector of activity to offer personalized solutions.’
Areva / Orano
France > Tax Tier 1
Bredin Prat’s team stands out for its leading expertise in the tax structuring of M&A transactions. Working alongside the corporate team, the practice advises on high number of the market’s leading M&A deals, especially on landmark M&A listed transactions. For instance, it assisted PSA Peugeot Citroën with its cross-border merger project with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The practice also advised a major US corporation with its tax restructuring spanning ten jurisdictions. Many leading French and international corporations are clients, with some private equity funds also turning to the firm for their most complex matters. The practice also handles high-level litigation cases, often raising sensitive issues or involving large financial amounts, and is experienced in assisting with wealth management tax issues. Yves Rutschmann directs the practice which also includes the highly regarded Sébastien de Monès, Pierre-Henri Durand and Julien Gayral, as well as the promising Anne Robert and Jean-Florent Mandelbaum. Also acknowledged and very involved in matters is counsel Marion Méresse.
Other key lawyers:
‘Top-level client service and technical expertise; practical knowledge. The tax team is the best I have worked with anywhere in Europe, on any topic.’
‘Pierre-Henri Durand is focused, diligent, thoughtful, and relentlessly in pursuit of the best possible results for his clients within the boundaries of the law’
‘Yves Rutschmann has unparalleled respect and credibility.’
‘I appreciated the great rigour of their analyses and their professionalism.’
‘Yves Rutschmann provides a high quality of services, including in complex litigation cases. Julien Gayral is rigorous, provides in-depth analyses with great clarity, including on the most complex subjects.’
‘They have remarkable skills. They are concerned with providing a solution, and not simply analyses.’
‘Good knowledge on technical French tax and ability to explain in a clear and efficient manner.’
‘Extremely high level of dedication, knowledge and exceptional availability to carry out the project to a successful end.’
‘The team, particularly Yves Rutschmann, Pierre Henri Durand, and Adrien Soumagne, has a rare ability to make technical issues straightforward, and then equally delve into complex details and legal strategy with ease. Responsive, savvy, sophisticated, but accessible, we always receive a thoughtful response and perfect work product, with consistent communication in perfect English throughout. Incredibly effective advocates with an efficient approach.’
‘Anne Robert is attentive to expectations and shows remarkable involvement.’
‘Best in class knowledge of M&A tax regulations and practices.’
‘Pierre-Henri Durand delivers top rate advice. He is extremely knowledgeable, thinks far ahead and is intent on providing the best possible answer to a specific situation.’
Coca-Cola European Partners
Promontoria (My Money Bank)
Distinguished by its 'long experience in corporate financing', Bredin Prat assists large corporates with the full range of borrower-side matters including loan finance and capital market transactions. The practice has a track record working on high-profile mandates, notably advising Fnac Darty in connection with the first credit facility guaranteed by the French State. More broadly, the department also represents shareholders, sponsors, investment funds and occasionally banks, on matters including public and private debt placements, debt restructurings and acquisition finance. Raphaële Courtier leads the group, specialising in acquisition financing, LBO financing, capital market transactions and private placements.
‘The team with which I work is distinguished by its long experience in corporate financing and its practical understanding of the key factors involved.‘
‘Their organisation and reactivity is perfect.‘
‘Raphaële Courtier leads a team with excellent negotiation skills. A rigorous approach to all matters.‘
‘Coherent team, always reactive and to the point.‘
Bain Private Equity
Maisons du Monde
Ramsay Générale de Santé
French giant Bredin Prat's nimble team specialises in custom-made transactions that range from IPOs to the private placements of equity securities and private placements by way of accelerated book-building. Practice head Olivier Saba is well versed in assisting with major domestic and foreign listings and leads an experienced stock exchange regulation and securities litigation team. For the team's many cross-border matters, Saba successfully relies on the firm's international network of best friend firms.
France > Private equity: LBO Tier 2
The prestigious team at Bredin Prat acts for an impressive list of French and international private equity houses, family offices and shareholders or target companies. The LBO practice is a core pillar of the firm's wider private equity offering that also includes P-to-P and PIPE transactions, with mid-cap and large-cap transactions account for the majority of matters. The complementary expertise in tax and financing, along with the group's experience in management packages, allow for seamless service from the French firm. Florence Haas, Olivier Assant and Adrien Simon form the heart of the practice.
‘Bredin Prat is a law firm that covers all areas of law in France, which is a real advantage. Very few firms can offer this in France with this level of excellence.’
‘Olivier Assant is not only an excellent lawyer, but he also has a business vision of cases, which is relatively rare.’
Clayton Dubilier & Rice
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts
At Bredin Prat, Yann Aguila ’s team is retained by leading French and international private companies as well as by public sector entities and trade organisations to advise on strategic regulatory issues, including administrative litigation. With key clients from the transport and hospitality sector, the practice is well versed in challenging new national or local regulations on hospitality and transport rules. The team also regularly assists public sector companies and bodies with their reorganisation. Other work includes supporting the corporate team in M&A transactions involving public infrastructure or public law companies. General public law, including public contract law, is also available. Counsel Guillaume Froger is the other key member.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team is very dynamic, responsive and impactful. It very quickly understood our challenges. The exchanges were fluid and efficient.’
‘Yann Aguila’s team provides a very detailed analysis of the situation, has an excellent understanding of the subject at hand and provides very good reactivity.’
Agence de la transition écologique (ADEME)
Aeropuertos Españoles y Navegacion Aérea (AENA)
Association française de l’immobilier locatif
CCI Paris Île-de-France
Conseil interprofessionnel du vin de Bordeaux (CIVB)
Défense Conseil International
Fédération des exportateurs de vins et spiritueux
Fédération des sociétés immobilières et foncières
Fédération française des vins d’apéritif (FFVA)
Union des maisons et des marques de vin
France > Compliance Tier 3
Bredin Prat advises leading French corporations on anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, whistle-blowing and duty of vigilance compliance issues. The practice assisted several companies facing French AFA’s audits and assisted Imerys and its former CEO before the Enforcement Committee of the AFA, only the second case brought before the Enforcement Committee in France. White-collar crime lawyers Eric Dezeuze and Guillaume Pellegrin co-head the practice.
Bredin Prat handles commercial and investment arbitration disputes, acting for Middle-Eastern and Eastern European states as well as for leading French and international companies from various sectors. The team notably handles construction, post-M&A, and energy and technology infrastructure disputes, with matters often involving African jurisdictions. The practice is co-headed by Louis-Christophe Delanoy, Raëd Fathallah, José María Pérez and Tim Portwood. Also involved are counsels Giulia Carbone and Marina Weiss.
‘Experienced team, highly knowledgeable, responsive and precise’.
BRIF TRES d.o.o. Beograd and BRIF-TC d.o.o. Beograd
Enauta Energia S.A.
The Republic of Croatia
The Arab Republic of Egypt
The Lebanese Republic
France > Insolvency Tier 3
Bredin Prat is able to deal with the full range of matters; from financial restructuring to distressed M&A, insolvency proceedings and related litigation. The team often acts for corporations involved in matters as debtors, commercial partners or investors, but also assists shareholders and some banks. The practice handles a good volume of work and was recently involved in key matters from a number of sectors, including the representation of Lagardère Media News and Keesing in Presstalis’ restructuring in the press sector. The team also assisted several clients with negotiating Covid-19 state guaranteed loans. Nicolas Laurent and Olivier Puech co-head the practice.
Nicolas Laurent; Olivier Puech
Amer Sports Corporation
Lagardère Media News
|Mr Yann Aguila||Partner||View Profile|
|Mr Suhaib Al Ali||Associate||View Profile|
|Céline Allignol||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Karine Angel||Counsel||View Profile|
|Ms Julia Apostle||Counsel||View Profile|
|Ms Anne-Sophie Arbide-Vignarte||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Mathieu Arnault||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Olivier Assant||Partner||View Profile|
|Mrs Elena Baxter||Partner||View Profile|
|Mr Calmann Bellity||Associate.||View Profile|
|Ms Julia Benke||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Philippe Beurier||Partner||View Profile|
|Ms Jenyfer Bianchi||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Olivier Billard||Partner||View Profile|
|Mr Alexander Blackburn||Partner||View Profile|
|Ms Marine Blottiaux||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Charlotte Bonsch||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Florian Bouaziz||Partner||View Profile|
|Mr Yoann Boubacir||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Nicolas Bouffier||Counsel||View Profile|
|Mr Jean-Damien Boulanger||Counsel||View Profile|
|Mr Pierre-Marie Boya||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Jean-Denis Bredin||Founding Partner||View Profile|
|Mr Jean-Daniel Bretzner||Partner||View Profile|
|Ms Charlotte Buxtorf||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Hugues Calvet||Partner||View Profile|
|Mr Victor Camatta||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Giulia Carbone||Associate||View Profile|
|Clémence Carlier||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Magali Carosso||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Timur Celik||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Douceline Chabord||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Edouard Chaney||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Jessica Chartier||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Yohann Chevalier||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Caroline Combes||Associate||View Profile|
|Jérôme Cordier||Counsel||View Profile|
|Ms Sophie Cornette de Saint Cyr||Partner||View Profile|
|Barthélémy Courteault||Partner||View Profile|
|Raphaële Courtier||Partner||View Profile|
|Raphaële Courtier||Partner||View Profile|
|Mr Shane Daly||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Samuel Daniau||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Louis Christophe Delanoy||Partner||View Profile|
|Jean-Benoît Demaret||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Simon Dereix||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Romain Dethomas||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Eric Dezeuze||Partner||View Profile|
|Aliénor Dony||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Eve Duminy||Associate||View Profile|
|Raphaël Dumontet||Associate||View Profile|
|Raphaël Dumontet||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Pierre-Henri Durand||Partner||View Profile|
|Mr Patrick Dziewolski||Partner||View Profile|
|Ms Myriam Epelbaum||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Laura Fadlallah||Associate||View Profile|
|Clémence Fallet||Partner||View Profile|
|Ms Rochanak Farhadian||Associate||View Profile|
|Raëd Fathallah||Raëd Fathallah, Partner, is a member of the firm’s International Arbitration team.…||View Profile|
|Raëd Fathallah||Raëd Fathallah, Partner, is a member of the firm’s International Arbitration team.…||View Profile|
|Léa Francis||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Jean-Baptiste Frantz||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Guillaume Froger||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Laura Gabay||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Cyril Gaillard||Partner||View Profile|
|Zélie Gani-Fior||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Maxime Garcia||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Hugues Gascon||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Emilie Gatineau||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Julien Gayral||Partner||View Profile|
|Ms Marion Genova||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Margaux Goetz-Nectoux||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Louis Gosset||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Damien Goutte||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Pierre Goyat||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Paul Guillemin||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Geoffrey Gury||Associate||View Profile|
|Clémentine Hébrard||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Florence Haas||Partner||View Profile|
|Mr Arthur Helfer||Associate||View Profile|
|Pierre Honoré||Partner||View Profile|
|Mr Martin Horion||Associate||View Profile|
|Aurélien Jolly||Counsel||View Profile|
|Ms Lora Jouault||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Karin-Amelie Jouvensal||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Anne Jussiaux||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Benjamin Kanovitch||Partner||View Profile|
|Ms Nadira Kayouech||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Alexandre Koenig||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Veronika Korom||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Sung-Hyuk Kwon||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Pascale Lagesse||Partner||View Profile|
|Mr Simon Lange||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Vincent Langenbach||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Alice Latour||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Nicolas Laurent||Partner||View Profile|
|Mr Antoine Le Bihan||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Nathalie Legendre||Counsel||View Profile|
|Mr Jean Leroy||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Denis Liberatoscioli||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Lucille Lopez||Associate||View Profile|
|Chloé Méléard||Associate||View Profile|
|Marion Méresse||Associate.||View Profile|
|Ms Irene Madero||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Jean-Florent Mandelbaum||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Nolwenn Mandon||Associate||View Profile|
|Béna Mara||Associate||View Profile|
|Océane Margaron||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Flora Marinho||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Didier Martin||Senior Partner||View Profile|
|Mr Emmanuel Masset||Partner||View Profile|
|Mr Alexandre Michel||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Laura Montagnier||Associate||View Profile|
|Mrs Alice Mony Decroix||Counsel||View Profile|
|Mr Franck Morhain||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Simon Moysan||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Alexandre Orts||Associate||View Profile|
|José María Pérez||Partner||View Profile|
|Françoise Panel||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Mathilde Paquelier||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Samuel Pariente||Partner||View Profile|
|Aurélie Patrelle||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Guillaume Pellegrin||Partner||View Profile|
|Ms Camille Petiau||Associate||View Profile|
|Anaïs Pinton||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Tim Portwood||Partner||View Profile|
|Mr Matthieu Pouchepadass||Partner||View Profile|
|Ms Valentine Pouyet||Associate||View Profile|
|Sébastien Prat||Partner||View Profile|
|Mr Thomas Priolet||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Olivier Puech||Partner||View Profile|
|Marie-Cécile Rameau||Partner||View Profile|
|Ms Kathy Ribeiro Leite||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Alexandre Ricat||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Philippe Rios||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Lionel Ripamonti||Associate||View Profile|
|Gaël Rivière||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Anne Robert||Partner||View Profile|
|Mr Pierre-Marie Roch||Associate||View Profile|
|Mrs Kate Romain||Partner||View Profile|
|Ms Juliette Roquette||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Yves Rutschmann||Partner||View Profile|
|Mr Olivier Saba||Partner||View Profile|
|Mr Robert Saint-Esteben||Partner||View Profile|
|Mr Julien Sanciet||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Richard Schepard||Counsel||View Profile|
|Ms Isabelle Schmitt||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Alexandra Schoen||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Jean Senard||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Edouard Sicot||Partner||View Profile|
|Ms Mathilde Sigel||Associate.||View Profile|
|Mr Adrien Simon||Partner||View Profile|
|Ms Morgane Sirodot||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Adrien Soumagne||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Karine Sultan||Partner||View Profile|
|Ms Aude Sybillin||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Lilia Tissegtelt||Associate||View Profile|
|Laëtitia Tombarello||Partner||View Profile|
|Ms Yelena Trifounovitch||Partner||View Profile|
|Mr Guillaume Vatin||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Tom Vauthier||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Florent Veillerobe||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Romain Verzini||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Jing Wei||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Marina Weiss||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Dingyi Yu||Associate||View Profile|
|Mr Hadrien de Lauriston||Associate||View Profile|
|Victoire de Ménonville||Associate||View Profile|
|Sébastien de Monès||Partner||View Profile|
Doing Business In
One Year Before the Presidential Elections Review & Perspectives
French employment law often has the reputation of being a strict, rigid set of rules providing a high level of protection to employees. Yet, in the past few years, and in particular since 2017 under President Macron, employment law in France has undergone a certain number of changes, brought by various governmental reforms which aimed at simplifying the regulations, while also bringing a certain level of flexibility to the employers.
The following is an overview of the recent evolutions of labor and employment law in France, and this at a critical date: one year before the next presidential elections, scheduled for April 2022.
The 2017 Labor Law Reform
In September 2017, the French government enacted several ordinances which introduced profound changes to French labor and employment law, with the main intention of making the French labor market more flexible.
Hierarchy of Laws
French labor and employment law is based on both State-level sources (the Constitution, laws and regulations codified in the Labor Code, case law) and professional-level sources (industry-wide and company-wide collective bargaining agreements, unilateral decisions of the employer – “engagements unilatéraux”, company practices – “usages”), to which one should add applicable international and European conventions and treaties, and the interpretation of the law provided by case law. National collective bargaining agreements concluded at industry-level are very common and their application was, historically, mandatory in all companies belonging to the same industry. In principle, it was not possible to depart from it – unless, in certain cases where the alternative provisions were more favorable to the employees.
However, through the 2017 Labor Law Reform (and its previous installment, the 2016 Labor “El Khomri” Law), the structure of the French Labor Code was significantly amended to provide that company-wide agreements could depart from industry-wide agreements in many areas, even in cases where their provisions would be less favorable to the employees.
In fact, the industry-wide agreements kept their primacy vis-à-vis company-wide agreements in only six areas: minimum wage, employee classification, supplementary social protection, training, prevention of the arduousness of work, and professional equality between women and men. As a consequence, with the exception of these subjects, company-wide agreements may now be less favorable to employees than industry-wide agreements (e.g. in areas such as working time, paid leave, bonuses, severance payments, etc.).
This new architecture of social dialogue has contributed to a substantial increase of the number of company-wide collective bargaining agreements: In 2020, the General Labor Department counted 76,650 such agreements, compared to only 42,200 in 2016.
This significant increase in the number of company-wide collective bargaining agreements can also be explained by the new possibility to negotiate such agreements even within medium-sized and small companies, even in the absence of any trade union representatives, through negotiation with the elected “social and economic committee” members, if any, or by way of referendum directly with employees.
The importance of this evolution should not be underestimated, as only 8% of the employees in France effectively belong to a union (although collective bargaining agreements concluded with a union apply to all employees, regardless of whether they are unionized or not), and 2/3 of the companies in France have less than 10 employees.
One of the most important provisions of the 2017 Labor Law Reform relates to the simplification of employee representation: It replaces all previous employee representative bodies (i.e. works council – “comité d’entreprise”, staff delegates – “délégués du personnel”, health and safety committee – “comité d’hygiène, de sécurité et des conditions de travail) by one single body for all companies with at least eleven employees.
This new employee representative body, known as the “economic and social committee” (“comité social et économique”), had to be implemented in all concerned companies by December 31, 2019 at the latest. As it was already the case before 2017, the members of this employee representative bodies are employees of the company elected by their peers. Belonging to a trade union is not mandatory to be candidate.
In companies of less than 50 employees, the economic and social committee has a general role in the promotion of health and safety, in presenting individual claims (notably relating to the application of the Labor Code), etc. In companies of 50 or more employees, the economic and social committee has an additional role: It must be informed and/or consulted on many issues, notably concerning the organization, management, and general operation of the company; as well as on issues concerning capital, assets and/or employment structure; etc.
The social and economic committee does not hold any veto right, but its role in any project of the company should not be disregarded, as the law provides that its consultation process (which typically lasts from 1 to 3 months) must be completed before any decision being made and any project is implemented.
Individual Termination of Employment
The 2017 Labor Law Reform also aimed at securing the labor relation between the employer and the employee. Notably, assessing that the uncertain nature of their financial exposure in case of litigation following the dismissal of an employee could hinder some employers from hiring, the government introduced a cap for the indemnification of unfair dismissals (the “Macron Scale” – “Barème Macron”), which is based on the length of service of the dismissed employee and the overall headcount of the company. This cap does not, however, cover specific prejudices, nor cases where the dismissal would be deemed null and void (notably in case of moral harassment or discrimination) instead of merely “unfair”.
A side effect of the Macron scale is that claims on a moral harassment or on a discrimination are increasing over the past years.
Moreover, the 2017 Reform simplified the requirements for motivation of a dismissal letter: A template form was issued, and a specific procedure was introduced that enables the employer to provide precision of the grounds of dismissal after notification of the dismissal letter. The statute of limitation applicable to challenge a dismissal on personal grounds was also lowered to one year (except for claims related to the execution of the employment contract or to specific situations such as discrimination or violation of the protective statute for pregnant women).
As with dismissals on personal grounds, the 2017 Labor Law Reform aims at bringing more security to economic dismissals. Before the reform, the economic grounds for a dismissal had indeed to be assessed at the level of the business sector of the whole group to which a company belonged –in other words, economic difficulties could have to be proven on a worldwide scale in order to justify an economic dismissal in a French subsidiary!
Since 2017, on the contrary, the economic situation of a group should be considered only at the French national level in order to justify an economic dismissal. Likewise, potential internal redeployment opportunities within the group for the employees dismissed on an economic ground must now only be offered in France (although it remains common for companies to voluntarily offer redeployment positions abroad).
Collective Mutual Termination Process
The 2017 Labor Law Reform also created a new scheme, called “collective mutual termination” (“rupture conventionnelle collective”), which enables an employer, through the conclusion of a company-wide agreement with the relevant employee representatives (it could not be implemented unilaterally by the employer), and under the control of the Labor Administration, to organize the voluntary departures of as many employees as it wishes. Contrary to classic workforce reduction / collective redundancy schemes, a collective mutual termination procedure does not necessitate to justify the existence of any economic difficulties (although the existence of such difficulties could help the discussions with the employee representatives and the Administration). In this scheme, the risk of individual litigation from employees is limited. However, the reorganization may only be implemented through voluntary departures which will not provide any guarantee on the target organization.
The Status of Platform Workers
A recent parliamentary report estimates that, as of January 2021, at least 200;000 persons work as independent contractors for digital platforms (in particular in the ride-hailing and food delivery sectors) in France. The status of these workers, who are not hired under an employment contract and do not per se benefit from the protection associated with “classic” employee status (notably social security, paid leave, unemployment insurance, etc.), has given rise to many debates in France in the last few years.
A Law on “mobility orientations” dated December 24, 2019 provides only for limited guarantees for these workers, by allowing the platforms to establish a charter determining the conditions and modalities for exercising its social responsibility, which should define the platform’s rights and obligations as well as those of the independent contractors with whom it works.
In parallel, there is an increase in litigation related to the nature of the relationship between these “independent contractors” and companies using digital platforms and apps to connect customers and workers. In 2018, the French Supreme Court (“Cour de cassation”) ruled for the first time that an independent worker from a home meal delivery platform had in fact the status of an employee. In 2020, the same Court requalified the relationship between an independent driver and Uber as an employment contract, as it considered that the driver’s independent status was fictitious. Yet, the legal debate continues, as platforms keep on demonstrating that they are mere intermediates between independent workers and customers, and that these workers are in no way in a subordination relationship with the platforms.
More recently, the French government issued, in April 2021, an ordinance providing for the professional election of representatives for the drivers and delivery-men in the Spring 2022, with a clear intention to encourage social dialogue between the platforms and the independent workers. According to the Minister of Labor, such dialogue “will ensure a better balance of commercial relations between the different actors and the implementation of working conditions and remuneration adapted to the situation of the workers”. Whether such discussions, and potential negotiations, will have a real impact on the status of independent platform workers will certainly be one of the key question of the upcoming years.
On its side, the French Senate launched this Summer 2021 a fact-finding mission on the impact of “uberization” and digital platforms on jobs and employment. This mission’s report has been presented at the end of September and provides several recommendations on the following areas: improving working conditions, promoting social dialogue, monitoring algorithmic management and ensuring the transparency, clarification and adjustment of platform algorithms.
The Impact of Covid-19
Although recourse to remote working was secured and facilitated by the 2017 Labor Law Reform, it is the Covid-19 pandemic and the successive lockdowns that really lead to the generalization of such working organization. As of today, although lockdown in France officially ended on June 30, 2021, some companies still encourage their employees to work from home, one or a few days a week, where possible. Specialists now wonder if this is merely a temporary trend, or if remote work will become a common benefit for most French employees in the future.
From a strict legal point of view, remote work can be implemented through various means: collective agreement, unilateral decision of the employer (potentially implemented after consultation of the economic and social committee), or specific individual agreement with the employee.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, a specific “furlough scheme” already existed and allowed employers to maintain their operation at a reduced scale, in case of major drop in activity. Under such scheme, an employer can, under control of the Labor Administration, reduce the working hours of employees and/or close down part of the company. In these circumstances, the loss of income suffered by employees as a result of their hours not worked is partially compensated by the employer through the payment of an allowance for each hour not worked (at least 70% of their gross hourly pay). The employer then receives a lump-sum compensation allowance from the State. Within the context of the Covid-19 specific measures, this furlough scheme can be implemented for a period of up to twelve months (instead of six months).
In order to help companies facing a lasting reduction of their activity, and avoid collective redundancies in the context of the pandemic, the French government also introduced in June 2020 a new furlough mechanism, named “APLD” (for “Activité Partielle Longue Durée” – long-term partial activity). This mechanism enables an employer to reduce the working hours of its employees by up to 40% of the legal working time (i.e. 40% of 35 hours a week: 21 hours). Meanwhile, as from July 2021, the employees must receive a remuneration at least equal to 60% of their gross hourly pay for each hour not worked, and the employer receives as corresponding compensation a State allowance equal to a percentage of the gross hourly pay of the concerned employees. This mechanism can be implemented for up to 36 months, under the control of the Labor Administration, by way of collective bargaining agreement negotiated with the relevant employee representatives, or by way of unilateral decision, on the condition that an industry-wide collective agreement already provides an APLD framework.
According to the French Labor Ministry, c. 500,000 employees were subject to furlough in August 2021 (i.e. 2,4% of the employees of the private sector), against c. 2.2 million in May 2021 (i.e. a decrease of almost 80%, which can be explained by the end of lockdown and the reopening of many shops, restaurants, and other public spaces, as well as a diminution of the State allowance for companies of certain sectors).
As per a new law passed in August 2021, certain employees, notably health professionals and employees working in places where a health pass is mandatory (e.g. restaurants, cultural establishments, trains, malls, etc.) must present a valid health pass (i.e. a Covid-19 vaccination certificate, a negative RT-PCR/antigenic test, or a recovery certificate) or, in some cases, are even subject to a Covid-19 vaccination obligation, to be authorized to work.
If an employee subject to such obligation cannot show the necessary proof to his employer, his employment contract will in principle be suspended, and he will not be paid, until he can show the relevant certificate. The use of paid leave by the employee or, if possible, his affectation to a position where a health pass is not necessary, is also possible in order to avoid such suspension of the employment contract. In any case, any dismissal on such grounds remains prohibited. The issue of the validity of the suspension of the employment contract in this context is currently pending in front of various French courts.
In all other professions that are not subject to mandatory vaccination or health pass, a lack of pass or a refusal to vaccinate cannot justify a suspension of the employment contract, nor a sanction. In this situation, an employer cannot impose vaccination on his employees nor force them to carry out a RT-PCR test in order to work on site.
Perspectives for 2022 and beyond
In addition to these evolutions, new major reforms are already being prepared for the upcoming months, in particular concerning pension systems, as President Macron has announced that discussions in this respect may be re-open by the end of the year. In the context of the upcoming 2022 presidential elections, such major and controversial reforms could even become a way for the current President to launch his potential re-election campaign especially in a context of an embellishment of the employment sector…
It is therefore essential to remain informed of these new and changing texts, in order to benefit from all opportunities that the French workforce and market may offer.
Published: October 2021
Authors: Béna Mara Adrien Soumagne Lauriane Billette
This country-specific Q&A provides an overview to Blockchain laws and regulations that may occur in France.
France: Private Equity
Published: January 2022
Authors: Olivier Assant Florence Haas Karine Sultan Anne Robert
This country-specific Q&A provides an overview to Private Equity laws and regulations that may occur in France.
- Dispute resolution: Commercial litigation
- Dispute resolution: Stock market litigation
- Dispute resolution: White-collar crime
- EU, competition and distribution
- Mergers and acquisitions
Top Tier Firm Rankings
- Banking and finance: transactional work
- Capital markets: equity capital markets
- Private equity: LBO