Bredin Prat > Paris, France > Firm Profile
Bredin Prat Offices
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Bredin Prat > The Legal 500 Rankings
France > Dispute resolution: Commercial litigation Tier 1
Leading French business firm Bredin Prat is a staple name on the market for litigation work. Building on the firm’s first-class M&A capabilities, the litigation team naturally handles the largest M&A-related disputes, especially in the field of high-profile publicly listed transactions. The practice notably played a front role in the handling of the Suez-Veolia M&A battle. The team’s impressive credentials also earns it mandates in highly sensitive shareholder and governance conflicts pertaining to top companies. Besides corporate litigation, the practice is retained by the largest French and international corporations to assist with their most strategic cases, handling commercial and liability litigation, as well as proceedings mixing civil, criminal, regulatory or major international aspects. For instance, the practice successfully defended a client before French courts in a strategic liability case relating to the use of the ‘agent orange’ chemical gas during the Vietnam war. The practice is co-headed by Jean-Daniel Bretzner, Florian Bouaziz, Sébastien Prat and Eve Duminy; as well as by Didier Martin, who primarily acts in stock-market litigation, and by white-collar crime star Eric Dezeuze. Calmann Bellity, Aurélie Patrelle and Tom Vauthier made counsel in January 2021.
Didier Martin; Eric Dezeuze; Jean-Daniel Bretzner; Florian Bouaziz; Sébastien Prat; Guillaume Pellegrin; Ève Duminy
Other key lawyers:
‘Jean-Daniel Bretzner is undoubtedly one of the stars of business litigation in France, thanks to a rare combination of encyclopedic knowledge in a large number of fields and his ability to develop new lines of thoughts in defence of his clients. He will examine every possible argument, procedural and substantive, leaving absolutely no detail behind. Jean-Daniel changes the dimension of his ‘à la carte’ team, according to the needs and budgetary constraints of the clients; such flexibility is appreciated.’
‘The partners are accessible and available to their clients. They can be reached on the cellphone, which is very practical and makes the relationship smoother.’
‘The team demonstrates its mastery at managing cases through an appropriate distribution of roles, and an ability to mobilise resources to understand subjects at hand.’
‘Great experience and expertise.’
‘The firm is a true heavyweight litigation powerhouse in France. We have dealt with a number of partners and senior associates, and the quality is consistently exceptional.’
‘Florian Bouaziz is a great litigator.’
Rothschild & Co
Stellantis (former PSA)
- Advising Suez in connection with the public offer project launched by Veolia.
- Advising Lactalis in disputes led in different countries against the US based bank Citi Bank, in the context of the bankruptcy of the Italian-based company Parmalat.
- Advised Lagardère in connection with joint demand for seats on its supervisory board issued by Vivendi and activist fund Amber Capital.
France > Dispute resolution: Stock market litigation Tier 1Bredin Prat ’s practice needs little introduction. The firm defended its position as one of the most established firms in the market with its lead role in the Suez-Veolia headline stock market battle and its involvement in Covéa's failed bid on Scor. The practice is also a reference for high-level listed company governance issues and for stock market abuse investigations. It is currently defending many listed companies as well as companies’ directors and investment funds in investigations led by the French stock market regulator (AMF) concerning false information and insider trader accusations. The team unites top litigators Jean-Daniel Bretzner, Florian Bouaziz and Ève Duminy with white-collar experts Eric Dezeuze and Guillaume Pellegrin.
Other key lawyers:
Rothschild & Co
- Defending Suez in connection with the public offer project launched by Veolia.
- Advising NJJ press (a company controlled by Xavier Niel, founder of Free) in connection with issues concerning the composition of the share capital of Le Monde group.
- Defended Lagardère in connection with joint demands made for seats to be made available on its supervisory board by Vivendi and activist fund Amber Capital.
France > Dispute resolution: White-collar crime Tier 1Bredin Prat is home to one of France’s leading white-collar crime practices. The team, led by star partner Eric Dezeuze, is extremely versatile, acting in matters that span corruption, embezzlement, market abuses and tax evasion issues, as well as cases involving criminal offenses in employment and environmental law. The practice is notably handling a high volume of tax evasion and money laundering cases, acting in the most important cases in France, and has been retained by leading public sector operators in relation to industrial accidents. Uber chose the firm for matters that put its entire business model at risk. The practice has an exceptionally diverse client base consisting of leading French and international companies, leading banks and investment funds, as well as executives, bankers, and public sector representatives. Guillaume Pellegrin is the second key name in the practice.
Other key lawyers:
- Assisting different entities of the Uber group operating in France with several white-collar criminal cases, and notably Uber France in a pending criminal case that arose after the implementation of the peer-to-peer service named ‘UberPop’ in France and subsequent violent taxi strikes and protests.
- Defending ADP in connection with a litigation procedure relating to an accident which occurred in 2012 at an airport.
France > Employment Tier 1Bredin Prat's highly experienced team is among the strongest in the market. In line with the firm’s thriving M&A practice, the employment team frequently acts in employment matters linked to the firm’s corporate transactions, often ranking among the largest in France and involving publicly listed companies. On a stand-alone basis, the team assists clients with complex collective negotiations and reorganisation projects. It is also solicited for the management of sensitive individual employment matters involving high-ranking executives. High-stakes litigation involving numerous employees is another area of strength, with a dispute arisen from the alleged non-respect of commitments made before the French state in the context of a high-profile M&A transaction a recent example. The group's role as advisor of a leading digital platform concerning business-critical employment status requalification proceedings provided further proof of its excellent reputation. Practice head Pascale Lagesse, Cyril Gaillard and Laëtitia Tombarello make up a strong trio.
Other key lawyers:
Cyril Gaillard; Laetitia Tombarello
‘Availability and skills.’
‘Precision, good synthesis and clarity of the analysis.’
‘Recommendations combining legal and operational efficiency with proposed solutions.’
‘Very fast integration of business issues.’
‘The firm knows how to have a 360° vision of the subjects that concern us. Very good communication between the different teams when the subjects transcend several fields. The team is very responsive, relevant and combative, beyond being very technical on all aspects.’
‘Ultra-responsive; business-oriented, results-oriented. Synthetic and concise with ultra-pragmatic advice.’
China Jianyin Investment (JIC)
- Advised the Vale group in connection with the employment law aspects of the sale by Vale Canada Limited, a Vale subsidiary, of its stake in Vale New Caledonia (VNC).
- Advising Aviva in the context of the employment law aspects of the ongoing sale of Aviva France for €3.2bn to French insurer Aéma Groupe.
- Advising SNCF on the employment aspects of the ongoing sale of its subsidiary Ermewa to a consortium comprising CDPQ and DWS Group.
France > EU, competition and distribution Tier 1The competition law group at the Bredin Prat continues to be a dominant force in the market, advising major national and international corporates across the energy, telecoms, transport, financial services, pharmaceuticals, media, retail, and food and beverages sectors. The group’s wide range of expertise includes interim measures, leniency applications, settlement discussion and appearances before the European Commission and the French Competition Authority. The group is led by merger control and state aid authority Olivier Billard, cross-border transaction specialist Igor Simic, investigation expert Marie-Cécile Rameau, public economic law advisor Yelena Trifounovitch and Brussels office head Pierre Honoré.
‘Very nice team led by Igor Simic. High technicality, fine knowledge of French and European authorities. Tailor-made service.’
‘Excellent teams across multiples area of expertise.’
‘Working with Bredin Prat and its competition team is an opportunity. In addition to its excellence, their lawyers are characterised by a high legal quality, the quality of the analysis of situations, their sense of strategy and human qualities.’
‘The partners, and, more particularly, Yelena Trifounovitch, are of great human, intellectual and legal quality. Their availability is remarkable.’
Johnson & Johnson
LVMH – Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy
Stellantis (formerly PSA Peugeot Citroën)
- Advising Suez before the European Commission and the General Court of the European Union as well as national competition authorities worldwide in connection with the €13bn public takeover launched by Veolia.
- Successfully defended Apple before the French Competition Authority, obtaining the dismissal of a request for interim measures aimed at preventing Apple from rolling out Apple’s iOS 14 privacy changes.
- Advised US biotech company Illumina Inc. before the French Competition Authority and the French Supreme Administrative Court (Conseil d’État) in the context of the first request for referral to the European Commission of a merger that did not cross the jurisdictional thresholds.
France > Mergers and acquisitions Tier 1
A firm with offices in Paris and Brussels, Bredin Prat is engaged on a mix of domestic and cross-border mandates, leveraging a market-leading Best Friends network in several key European jurisdictions. The team is able to call upon its colleagues in the tax, antitrust, employment, financing, restructuring and litigation to provide a full-service offering and, owing to its considerably deep bench, is geared for transactions of all sizes, including bet the company deals. Olivier Assant and Benjamin Kanovitch are among the key contacts for public M&A, often acting on both inbound and outbound investments, meanwhile Patrick Dziewolski is a standout for a range of transactions within the energy, finance and construction sectors. Sophie Cornette de Saint-Cyr is acclaimed as a ‘problem solver who is good in negotiations‘ and the team also includes Sébastien Prat and Matthieu Pouchepadass, both of whom compliment their transactional prowess with expert knowledge of dispute, governance and securities issues. Clémence Fallet is a junior partner with experience in a broad variety of deal types; the team is also home to a number of up-and-coming names including Jean-Benoît Demaret and Christine Lenis who made partner in January 2021 and Marine Blottiaux who was promoted to counsel.
Other key lawyers:
Olivier Assant; Benjamin Kanovitch; Patrick Dziewolski; Sébastien Prat; Matthieu Pouchepadass; Emmanuel Masset; Kate Romain; Jean-Benoît Demaret; Christine Lenis; Marine Blottiaux ; Clémence Fallet
‘Excellent experience of the partners who participate in market files. High quality of young dynamic and motivated employees.’
‘Patrick Dziewolski has exceptional experience in complex cases, availability and ability to identify solutions.’
‘Exceptional responsiveness and commitment to client service, rare qualities for a firm of this level of reputation. Clarity appreciated in terms of invoicing.’
‘Sophie Cornette de Saint-Cyr, unlike many high-level lawyers in mergers and acquisitions, perfectly masters the financial aspects of subjects, and is very good with investment bankers, which gives her an exceptional double reading of M&A topics. The firm also has a real quality of recruitment and team, which allows to bring a human touch and to create confidence in addition to the remarkable technical mastery.’
‘Good understanding of our expectations, of the corporate culture and search for solutions adapted to our specificities. Efficient billing and collection procedures.’
‘Fluidity and simplicity of exchanges, responsiveness and great availability of interlocutors regardless of the quality of the speaker. Good communication within the team. Outstanding support and advice from Sophie Cornette de Saint Cyr.’
‘From receptionists to name partners, all the teams seem totally dedicated to the success of your project. Nothing seems impossible; everything seems easy. The most complex questions are answered simply, in language understood by all. This apparently easy simplicity is the mark of keen intelligence.’
‘Bredin Prat has an exceptional M&A team supported by strong practices in all areas of the law required to close an M&A deal.’
BPCE / Natixis
Stellantis (formerly PSA Group)
- Advising Suez in connection with the public offer launched by Veolia for €13bn.
- Advised Iliad in connection with its public tender offer for all of the shares making up the capital of the Polish telecom operator, Play, for €3.5bn.
- Advising SNCF on the sale of its subsidiary Ermewa to a consortium consisting of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and a fund managed by DWS Group. The value of the transaction was €3.2bn.
France > Tax Tier 1Bredin Prat’s stellar tax team has first-class expertise in transactional tax. The tax practice frequently works hand in hand with the equally high-profile corporate team and advises on the structuring of the market’s largest public and private transactions. Its client base includes numerous CAC 40 and leading international corporations, as well as leading banks and investment funds. Family offices and private clients also use the firm. The team regularly acts on the market’s most complex and strategic transactions, often of global scale such as assisting PSA (now Stellantis) with its merger with Fiat Chrysler. High-stakes litigation, including disputes challenging tax legislation before courts, is another area of strength. Several tax reassessment cases regarding managers’ incentives or raising key issues such as abuse of law also feature in the caseload. The top-level criminal tax expertise completes the offering. Practice head Yves Rutschmann, Sébastien de Monès, Pierre-Henri Durand and Julien Gayral are all top names on the market. The younger guard led by Anne Robert and Jean-Florent Mandelbaum is also impressive. Counsels Marion Méresse and Franck Morhain and Victor Camatta, who made counsel in January 2022, are also recommended.
Other key lawyers:
Sébastien de Monès, Pierre-Henri Durand; Julien Gayral; Anne Robert; Jean-Florent Mandelbaum; Victor Camatta
‘The team, and in particular Yves Rutschmann and Julien Gayral, have demonstrated great technical expertise, including in new areas such as the tax on digital services. Their analyses, combining rigour, clarity and pragmatism, are invaluable decision-making tools.’
‘Recommended are: Yves Rutschmann, for the ease with which he assesses the challenges of changes in tax law and knows how to translate them into concrete recommendations for his clients; Julien Gayral, for the finesse of his analyses in matters of complex restructuring.’
‘Excellent experience, extremely competent and sharp on the specific and technical aspects of a LBO.’
‘Jean-Florent Mandelbaum is one of the best practitioners of taxation applied to LBOs, with excellent theoretical and practical knowledge, having worked on many very technical files.’
‘Jean-Florent Mandelbaum in particular is to be distinguished by an exceptional mixture of rigour and creativity, and an ability to treat subjects in the smallest details.’
‘Very strong tax technicians who are business-oriented and who therefore deliver great service to their clients.’
‘Sébastien de Mones is one of the best tax lawyers of his generation. Besides being a great technician, his dynamic and business-oriented thinking are a real asset on a deal.’
‘Jean-Florent Mandelbaum is the best tax lawyer of his generation, technical in a field where it is necessary and commercial where others are not, precise both on the texts but also on their spirit.’
China Jianyin Investment (JIC)
Coca-Cola European Partners
Promontoria (My Money Bank)
Stellantis (formerly Groupe PSA)
- Advising Natixis on the tax aspects of its majority shareholder BPCE’s project to acquire the c. 29.3% of Natixis’s capital BPCE does not already own through a proposed public tender offer (€3.7bn).
- Advising Tarkett and the Deconinck Family, as controlling shareholder of Tarkett, on the tax aspects of its simplified tender offer on Tarkett shares.
- Advising China Jianyin Investment (JIC) on the tax aspects of the ongoing sale of SGD Pharma to PAI Partners.
France > Banking and finance: transactional work Tier 2Focusing on the borrower side of corporate financing and refinancing, Bredin Prat stands out for its work in syndicated, TLB and unitranche facilities. As part of its offering, the team is also active in acquisition and restructuring finance transactions featuring capital markets products. In a recent highlight, the group advised Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Barclays Bank and JP Morgan in connection with the issuance of €1.185bn high-yield notes by CGG in the context of its debt refinancing. The department is led by Raphaële Courtier, who specialises in acquisition financing, capital markets transactions and debt restructuring. Mathieu Arnault made counsel in January 2021.
Other key lawyers:
‘This practice is unique because it perfectly combines a very strong expertise and perfect adaptation to the context of each case.’
Bain Private Equity
Maisons du Monde
- Advised Casino Group in connection with (a) the refinancing of its existing term loan B through a secured term loan B and an unsecured high-yield bond for a total amount of €1.525bn and (b) the amendment and extension of its existing secured €2.0bn revolving facility.
- Acted for Alstom on the acquisition of Bombardier Transportation and in connection with the conclusion of an amendment to a credit facility for the issuance of guarantees in order to increase the facility to a maximum amount of €9bn.
- Assisted Iliad in connection with the financing aspects of its public offer for the Polish telecom operator Play (enterprise valued at €3.5bn).
France > Capital markets: equity capital markets Tier 2Bredin Prat's practice covers public offerings and private placements of equity securities, including initial public offerings equity and convertible issues as well as privatisations. Practice head Olivier Saba and his team are able to draw on the firm's wider expertise, including on the expertise of the stock exchange regulation and securities litigation group. Counsel Jean-Damien Boulanger also assists with tender offers and corporate governance matters.
Other key lawyers:
‘Olivier Saba: friendly, very good lawyer, pragmatic.’
‘Efficiency, straight to the point, no unnecessary chatter, availability, pragmatism.’
‘Olivier Saba: very good interpersonal skills, specialist in capital markets, efficient, available. Damien Boulanger: specialist in capital markets. Emmanuel Masset: specialists in stock market law, efficient, available.’
Brasil Warrant S.A.
Lagardère Capital & Management (holding of Lagardère Group)
- Advised PSA as lead counsel in connection with the listing of the new entity PSA-FCA (merger of Peugeot SA and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) on Euronext Paris and the New York Stock Exchange.
- Advised Transition, the first French Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) dedicated to the energy transition, on its listing on the professional compartment of Euronext’s regulated market in Paris.
- Advised Fnac Darty in connection with its new financing strategy, which notably includes the successful placement of its first OCEANE bond for €200m.
France > Private equity: LBO Tier 2Working in close conjunction with the tax and finance teams, Bredin Prat's private equity group is equipped to advise on the full spectrum of PE transactions, including setting up tax structures and management packages. Skilled in LBO, public to private and private investment in public equity mandates, the practice is a strong choice for PE and investment funds, family offices and shareholders of target companies. Florence Haas, who is specialised in M&A, public takeovers and LBOs, is a key name.
Other key lawyers:
‘Impeccable professionalism, knowledge of the market, interpersonal skills, integration of internal teams, always guiding clients towards solutions.’
‘Implementation of new technologies (docusign etc.), which accelerates the signing and closing procedures.’
‘The firm Bredin Prat is a long-term partner of our company (KKR), always mastering our requirements.’
‘Florence Haas masters private equity transactions with in-depth commercial knowledge.’
China Jianyin Investment (JIC)
Clayton Dubilier & Rice
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR)
- Advised the Deconinck Family, as controlling shareholder of Tarkett, on the launch of a simplified tender offer on Tarkett shares, with the support of Wendel as long-term financial partner investor.
- Assisted Suez in connection with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Suez, Veolia and a consortium of investors with the view to create a new Suez with revenues of nearly €7bn, comprising Suez’ Water and Recycling & Recovery businesses in France as well as international assets, and growth prospects and development capacities both internationally and in France.
- Advised China Jianyin Investment (JIC) in connection with the ongoing sale of SGD Pharma to PAI Partners.
France > Administrative and public law Tier 3Bredin Prat provides strategic regulatory advice to leading companies and professional bodies from various sectors, including the energy, aviation, press and digital economy sectors. The practice notably assists leading internet platforms and other clients with challenging newly adopted regulations. It is also regularly involved in high-profile M&A transactions led by the firm and assists public sector institutions with their restructuring. The practice is headed by Yann Aguila, who is ably assisted by counsel Guillaume Froger.
Other key lawyers:
‘Good understanding of client issues and excellent team investment.’
‘Excellent interpersonal skills and high legal drafting skills from Guillaume Froger.’
‘The involvement of the team is exceptional. The legal level is very high.’
‘Yann Aguila is a former magistrate of the Council of State. He knows how to analyse a file instantly and build a winning strategy.’
‘Agility – competence – technicality – knowledge of the workings of the administration – effort on fees.’
‘Yann Aguila is competent – responsive – reasonable on fees.’
Aeropuertos Españoles y Navegacion Aérea (AENA)
Agence de la transition écologique (ADEME)
Alliance Française des Industries du Numérique (AFNUM)
Association française de l’immobilier locatif
CCIR Paris Île-de-France
COJO Paris 2024 (Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games of Paris 2024)
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)
Groupe de Presse Les Echos / Le Parisien
Martell Mumm Perrier-Jouët – Pernod Ricard
Union des maisons et des marques de vin
- Advising the French State Agence de la transition écologique (ADEME) on reform projects.
- Advising CCIR Paris Île-de-France on the public law aspects of the project of reorganisation of its activities.
- Advising newspapers ‘Les Echos’ and ‘Le Parisien’ on various disputes, in particular concerning the government’s refusal to disclose to a journalist an internal report on the management of the Covid-19 health crisis.
France > Capital markets: debt capital markets Tier 3
Other key lawyers:
Société Anonyme des Bains de Mer et du Cercle des Étrangers (SBM)
Thom Group and Altamir
- Advised Ramsay Santé in connection with the refinancing of the whole of its syndicated debt for a total amount of €1.650bn.
- Advising Casino Group in connection with a refinancing transaction totalling €1.525bn.
- Advised Firmenich on the successful placement of its inaugural €1.5bn Eurobond Benchmark Offering.
France > Compliance Tier 3Bredin Prat provides assistance with the setting up of French anti-corruption, duty of vigilance, code of conduct and whistle-blowing programmes and policies. It is also very experienced in assisting clients with French AFA’s audits, while also assisting companies with carrying out internal investigations. The practice advises a wide range of clients from a high number of different sectors. White-collar crime partners Eric Dezeuze and Guillaume Pellegrin are in charge.
Eric Dezeuze; Guillaume Pellegrin
France > Dispute resolution: International arbitration Tier 3Bredin Prat has a very strong team led by the highly qualified Louis-Christophe Delanoy, Raëd Fathallah, José María Pérez and Tim Portwood, who are ably supported by counsels Giulia Carbone and Marina Weiss. The firm manages both commercial and investment arbitration disputes, acting for private companies and state entities. Lebanon and Egypt are key clients on and recently secured favourable decisions with the practice at their side. The caseload frequently features construction, post-M&A, and energy and technology infrastructure disputes, especially matters involving Africa, the Middle East and Europe. In January 2022, Laura Fadlallah and Marina Weiss made partner and Shane Daly made counsel.
Louis Christophe Delanoy; Raëd Fathallah; José María Pérez; Tim Portwood
Other key lawyers:
‘All very thorough and competent. Excellent cultural diversity.’
‘Huge international diplomacy skills which are so important for international arbitration. Patience, acceptance of differing views and an ability to distill what is said in a clear and understandable way.’
BRIF TRES D.O.O Beograd and BRIF-TC D.O.O Beograd
The Republic of Croatia
The Arab Republic of Egypt
The Lebanese Republic
- Successfully advised the Lebanese Republic in an ICSID arbitration brought by Mr. Abed El Jaouni, a German investor, and a Lebanese company, Imperial Holding SAL, under the Germany-Lebanon BIT in a dispute arising out of the revocation of air operator certificates held by a Lebanese subsidiary of Imperial Holding SAL.
- Successfully advised the Arab Republic of Egypt in an ICSID arbitration brought by Cementos La Union S.A., a Spain-based investor, under the Spain-Egypt BIT in relation to a dispute concerning a cement business.
- Advising real estate investors in an ICSID arbitration against Serbia in a dispute related to the stalled construction of a shopping centre in Belgrade.
France > Insolvency Tier 3Bredin Prat‘s strong experienced team is able to cover the full range of matters thanks to high-level complementary M&A and financing support available. The firm often acts for debtors in addition to representing shareholders and investors in asset sale transactions. The team was recently involved in several prominent matters concerning the restaurant and food sectors, often in relation to the Covid-19 crisis. It was also involved in one the market’s highlight matter in Comexposium and helped Bordeaux’s football team going through its difficulties. Nicolas Laurent and Olivier Puech co-head the practice which includes counsel Mathilde Sigel.
Olivier Puech; Nicolas Laurent
‘We appreciated the exceptional availability and competence of Nicolas Laurent who offered us not obvious solutions, which are the result of a great experience.’
‘Probably the strongest legal and deal-making know-how in Paris.’
‘Good balance between partners who advise and make deals, in contact with clients, and the teams below who provide execution skills.’
Amer Sports Corporation
CCI Paris Île de France
Eurodivisas (Grupo Global Exchange)
Girondins de Bordeaux
Lagardère Media News
Potel et Chabot
- Advised Potel & Chabot on its successful restructuring thanks to a €18m of financial support coming from its historical shareholders.
- Advising Buffalo Groupe on the takeover of Courtepaille in the context of bankruptcy proceedings.
- Advising Girondins de Bordeaux on an amicable proceeding to find a new shareholder.
Belgium > Competition: EU and globalBredin Prat advises on merger control proceedings for major pan-European transactions, including pre-merger notifications, investigations, and clearance proceedings. The team, which is led by Pierre Honoré, also handles a range of antitrust matters, including abuse of dominance and cartel investigations, and state aid issues, working in close collaboration with its Paris office.
- Advising Lactalis on the proposed acquisition of the Leerdammer business from Bel.
- Advising Schneider Electric on the acquisition of OSIsoft.
- Advising Schneider Electric on the acquisition of a 25% stake in Planon Beheer.
Bredin Prat > Firm Profile
Bredin Prat is a leading law firm with a reputation for excellence in each of its practice areas: corporate/M&A, securities law, litigation and international arbitration, tax, competition and European law, banking and finance, restructuring and insolvency, employment, public and digital law.
Founded in 1966, the firm was first renowned for its expertise in litigation and arbitration, and, in the 1980s, began to expand its corporate law practice, a field in which it is now an undisputed market leader. This dual specialization enables the firm to handle a wide range of transactions and litigation matters for clients of all nationalities.
With offices in Paris and Brussels, Bredin Prat today has over 190 lawyers, including 50 partners and 23 counsels. Approximately one-third of the firm’s lawyers have dual nationality. Bredin Prat has successfully grown while preserving the firm’s culture and remaining committed to the highest standards of excellence.
Bredin Prat’s success is due, first and foremost, to its partners’ unequivocal and undisputed dedication to providing its clients with the highest level of expertise, placing the firm in a class of its own.
The ratio of associates to partners on each matter is among the lowest in the profession – evidence of the firm’s commitment to excellence.
For international and cross-border work, Bredin Prat lawyers work in integrated teams with lawyers from the firm’s Best Friends, a core network of independent firms from among the best in their respective jurisdictions. Today this network comprises 2,700 lawyers in 37 offices worldwide.
Staff FiguresNumber of lawyers : 190
LanguagesArabic Bulgarian Chinese Dutch English Farsi French German Hebrew Hungarian Italian Polish Romanian Russian Serbian Spanish
OtherOther offices : Brussels
Doing Business In
Employment In France
Recent trends and developments in French Employment law
The year 2022, which saw the reelection of President Emmanuel Macron, has brought with it some changes to the French employment and HR landscape. The Macron damages scale for unfair termination was upheld by the French Supreme Court, French digital platform workers voted for employee representatives for the first time, and new legislation was implemented in order to enhance whistleblower protection.
1. The Macron scale upheld by the French Supreme Court
The French Supreme Court (“Cour de cassation”) rendered two significant decisions on May 11, 2022 that upheld the validity of the compensation scale for unfair dismissal, commonly known as the “Macron scale.”
The Macron scale was established in 2017 to set up minimum and maximum levels of damages for unfair dismissal based on the employee’s seniority and remuneration and the company’s headcount.
The French Constitutional Court held in 2018 that the Macron scale complied with the French Constitution.
However, its validity has since been challenged by various Employment Courts and Courts of Appeals on the grounds that it fails to comply with international law (in particular the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention) and European law, which imply that the employee be compensated for the total harm suffered and/or that the judge can order the payment of “adequate” compensation to the employee in case of unfair dismissal, on a case-by-case basis.
In the May 2022 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the ILO Convention was directly applicable to domestic law but considered that the Macron scale was compatible with these texts for the following main reasons:
- The compensation provided under the scale was adequate since it was sufficiently dissuasive to avoid an unfair dismissal taking notably into account other amounts that the employer could be ordered to pay in case of unfair dismissal.
- The employer’s fault was taken into account, since the application of the scale is set aside when the dismissal is ruled null and void for one of the reasons defined by the law, namely: violation of a fundamental freedom, moral or sexual harassment, discrimination, etc.
The French Supreme Court also confirmed its opinion that the European Social Charter is not directly applicable to disputes between private individuals.
All in all, the Supreme Court has upheld that the Macron scale cannot be set aside by the courts (except for cases of null and void dismissal), even on a case-by-case basis. This decision therefore provides legal certainty to companies when dismissing employees in that it allows them to know at the time of dismissal the maximum amount of compensation that may be awarded in the event of unfair dismissal.
However, the battle over the application of the Macron scale is not over:
- The European Committee of Social Rights held in a March 23, 2022 decision (that was made public in October 2022) that the Macron scale runs afoul of the European Social Charter as the caps are insufficient, they do not serve as a deterrent and the courts have a limited scope of appreciation. However, this decision has no effect on French law as was recently made clear by the French Supreme Court.
- Certain Employment Courts and Courts of Appeals are still trying to avoid applying the Macron scale, such as the Court of Appeals of Douai in a recent decision dated October 21, 2022.
2. Changes to the status and representation of Digital platform workers
Status of digital platform workers
Digital platform work has become a hot topic in France in recent years. Although self-employed platform workers who are registered with the Trade and Companies Register (RCS) are not deemed to be “employees” pursuant to the French Labor Code, the classification of platform workers is routinely challenged in court.
In an effort to overturn this presumption of non-salaried status, numerous lawsuits have been filed by self-employed workers who have attempted to demonstrate that they are in a subordinate relationship with the platform by highlighting the fact that the platform manages and supervises them and has the ability to issue sanctions.
Certain Labor Courts and even the Supreme French Court have ruled in some cases that the service provider contracts were employment contracts, which may also have criminal consequences in situations of undeclared work as recently judged by the Paris Criminal Court in a specific case.
The Courts usually considered that the existence of a subordinate relationship was demonstrated by the following elements:
- management powers (as evidenced by the mandatory use of the company’s branded outfit, the rating of the driver’s skills according to a precise grid provided by the company, a schedule and a geographic area of activity determined by the company, etc.);
- oversight and supervision powers (as illustrated by the use of geolocation data and the absence of negotiations regarding applicable rates);
- disciplinary powers (as highlighted by the degree of measures to be taken in the event absenteeism (reminder of the rules, decreased rates, demotion in shifts, termination of the contract)).
In this context, the French government has already taken various steps in order to enhance the rights of digital platform workers.
Representation of digital platform workers
During Emmanuel Macron’s presidency, several attempts were made to establish a special legal regime for online platform workers.
The French Government adopted in April 2021 an ordinance implementing a system of collective representation of workers in the digital platform sector. It essentially allowed French platform workers to elect national representatives to initiate negotiations with the companies that own those platforms.
On April 6, 2022, a new ordinance was designed to strengthen the rights of self-employed workers working on mobility platforms i.e. drivers (known in France under the acronym VTC) and two-wheel delivery workers. This ordinance extended the rules governing social dialogue through three main mechanisms:
- The terms of the representation of the professional digital platform organizations (drivers and two-wheel delivery workers) were defined.
In addition to the traditional criteria of representativeness (respect for traditional French values, independence, financial transparency, etc.), the ordinance requires a minimum voting score that is measured with regard to the number of workers registered on the platforms and the total amount of revenue generated by the platform. The elections of these representatives were held from May 9 to 16, 2022 under the supervision of a new public institution, the Authority for Employment Platform Social Relations (ARPE). Participation in these elections was particularly low: only 1.83% of two-wheel delivery workers and 3.91% of VTC drivers voted.
Two recent decrees of September 21, 2022 have enhanced the social dialogue mechanism for digital platforms.
The outcome of these negotiations should be carefully monitored over the coming months.
- Collective agreements can now be concluded in each sector by representatives of workers’ trade unions and representatives of platform organizations. A collective agreement will be considered valid if it is signed by workers’ organizations representing more than 30% of the votes cast. Valid agreements may be made binding for all platforms and self-employed workers in the sector concerned by means of an approval from the ARPE.
- It sets out new obligations for platforms, such as the obligation to disclose the location of the services offered and give workers a reasonable timeframe to decide whether or not to accept them. It also reinforces the independence of workers by prohibiting platforms from imposing the use of specific equipment, subject to regulations concerning health, safety and the environment, and guaranteeing them the right to freely choose their itinerary. The exercise of these rights may not be sanctioned by any measure, such as occasional disconnections or the suspension or termination of the VTC driver’s or delivery person’s commercial contract with the platform.
3. New whistleblower status in France
France’s whistleblower protection regime is derived from the law of December 9, 2016, commonly known as the “Sapin II Law.” The Sapin II Law is generally considered as the French anti-corruption gold standard.
The French Parliament has adopted new legislation to bring the country’s whistleblower protection framework in line with the EU Directive on Whistleblowing of October 23, 2019, which aims to unify the protection of whistleblowers across the EU.
A transposition law dated March 21, 2022 has made substantial changes to the existing provisions on whistleblower protection and includes other provisions that go beyond the minimum standard requirements of the Directive.
A broader definition of whistleblower
Several changes have been made to the definition of whistleblowers, which are individuals who “report or disclose, without direct financial compensation and in good faith facts regarding: (i) a crime or an offence, or (ii) a threat or prejudice to the general interest, or (iii) a violation or an attempt to conceal a violation of an international commitment duly ratified or approved by France, of a unilateral act of an international organization adopted on the basis of such commitment, or of EU or French legislation and regulation.”
A whistleblower must no longer disclose the information “disinterestedly” but “without direct financial compensation” in order to benefit from the protection. The facts disclosed will no longer need to be “serious and manifest.” Finally, the need for the whistleblower to have “personal knowledge of the facts reported is removed with the “professional context.”
Extension of protection offered to “facilitators”
The scope of protection has also been extended, in particular, to cover “Facilitators” i.e., individuals or non-profit organizations (such as NGOs or trade unions), on which whistleblowers must be able to rely during the process.
The new law thus defines facilitators as “any natural person or non-profit legal entity under private law who assists a whistleblower in making a report or disclosure.”
Elimination of “tiered reporting”
The system currently in force in France requires that an internal report first be filed at the company in order to qualify for protection. One of the most noticeable changes in the new system comes directly from the EU Directive which has eliminated this “tiered reporting” – i.e. the hierarchy between reporting channels called “internal channels”, “external channels” (i.e public authorities), or “public disclosure”. Internal and external reporting channels may now be used by whistleblowers in an alternative or cumulative way.
Moving away from the previous strict three-tiered reporting model, whistleblowers will now be allowed to:
- report externally (with or without a prior internal report) to specific authorities or courts at the French or EU level, including as set out by a decree; and
- disclose publicly in certain cases set out by law (in some cases, after at least an external report that was made did not lead to appropriate follow up actions).
Companies with more than 50 employees should note that the elimination of the priority given to internal reporting does not mean that the obligation to establish a specific process for collecting such reports has disappeared. In order to avoid damage to their reputations, companies should consolidate their internal line of whistleblowing, so that all whistleblowers give priority to the internal reporting channel.
Reinforcement of whistleblower protection
The types of protection that are currently in force in order to facilitate whistleblowing have been enhanced:
- the list of prohibited types of retaliation against whistleblowers or their relatives has been consolidated to include intimidation and harassment; reputational damage (including online); financial losses (loss of business or revenue), etc.
- the protection of whistleblowers against abusive proceedings has been strengthened (i.e the maximum fine has been increased to EUR 60,000 and the whistleblower may be awarded a provision for legal costs or, when his/ her financial situation has been seriously impacted as a result of the report or public disclosure, a provision for financial assistance (in French “subsides”);
- the protection of whistleblowers in terms of liability has been extended so that they will not be criminally or civilly liable for damages caused by reporting publicly if they had reasonable grounds to believe that public disclosure was necessary to protect the interests at stake;
- the guarantees of confidentiality are strengthened, in particular concerning “any third party mentioned in the alert.“
The above changes entered into force on September 1, 2022. Companies will therefore need to adapt their existing whistleblower processes, policies and information notices to comply with these new requirements.
By Pascale Lagesse and Emilie Iafrate
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