The Asset Tracing and Recovery Review: France
Victims of dishonesty may obtain compensation either in standalone proceedings before the civil courts or before the criminal courts, if criminal proceedings have been brought against the debtor by the public prosecutor or the victims themselves.
General principles governing damages claim under French law apply: victims must establish:
- the existence of a wrongdoing from the opposing party;
- that they suffered a damage; and
- that there exists a causal link between the wrongdoing and the damage suffered.
In cases where the fraud lies in the debtor's attempt to elude enforcement of a debt by impoverishing itself or holding its assets through dummy companies, French law provides for specific remedies such as action paulienne (Paulian claim) and action en simulation (simulation claim). Creditors can seek a declaratory relief allowing them to attach these assets as if they were their debtor's property.
France is an important forum for asset recovery-related disputes and well known as an pro-enforcement jurisdiction, with a specialised court for enforcement matters and a dedicated set of laws compiled in a code.
Legal rights and remedies
i Civil and criminal remedies
French criminal law aims to protect the general interest of society as a whole, without dealing with victims' compensation. Hence, victims will find very little (monetary) solace in French criminal law. Their compensation is, almost exclusively, a matter of civil law.2
No provision of French law provides specifically for the restitution of the stolen goods as remedy of a fraud entailing the theft or embezzlement of assets belonging to the victims. Provisions, however, exist for restitutions following the annulment of a contract3 and restitution of goods seized in the context of criminal proceedings.4
As far as civil tort law is concerned, that remedy falls under the general obligation to compensate victims fully for the harm they suffered. The means through which this compensation is achieved is decided by the judge with full discretion, and include restitution in kind, if and when it is possible and practical. Oftentimes, however, this will either not be enough to alleviate all the harm suffered by victims, or not be available altogether, because the assets were not retrieved, have been destroyed or were sold to innocent third parties.
Furthermore, when the fraud lies in the debtor's attempt to elude enforcement of a debt, French law provides creditors with two specific remedies.
An action paulienne is provided by 1341-2 of the Civil Code. It requires creditors to prove that:
- they held a debt against their debtor at the time the fraudulent deed was executed;
- their debtor became insolvent, or aggravated its state of insolvency as a result; and
- their debtor was aware of the harm caused to his or her creditor by the execution of the fraudulent deed.
Furthermore, whenever the deed included a monetary consideration for the debtor, creditors must show that the third party was aware of the fraudulent nature of the deed. The fraudulent act of impoverishment will then be deemed ineffective toward the creditor.
An action en simulation is provided by Article 1201 of the civil code. It requires creditors to prove that, as a matter of fact, the true owner of the asset is not the owner in the name of which it is registered, for instance a family member, a proxy or sham companies with no real activity. Notably, creditors do not have to prove that the simulation was created specifically to defraud them, nor that their debt predates the simulation.
If successful, these actions allow creditors to act as if the assets in question belonged to their debtor.
Claim for damages
Venue for the action
That monetary compensation can only be sought through civil remedies does not mean that it can only be sought before civil courts.
Victims can also choose to bring their civil claim before the criminal courts by joining the action that has already been set in motion by the public prosecutor.5 Alternatively, they can set the criminal action in motion themselves by pressing charges against the suspected culprit, thereby forcing the public prosecutor to open an investigation.6
If victims first choose to act before the civil courts to obtain compensation, they can no longer force the setting in motion of criminal proceeding. However, they can change venue and seek reparation before the criminal courts if a criminal action is brought by the public prosecutor before a ruling has been issued by the civil courts.7 Victims' decision to switch gear may be motivated by the fact that, if a criminal action is started by the public prosecutor, any claim for damages brought before a civil judge based on the same wrongdoing that the one being prosecuted must be put on hold until the criminal proceedings yield a verdict.8
Conditions for the action
To obtain compensation from fraudsters, victims must first establish the civil liability of the former.
As for the persons the victims can seek reparation from, there are no restriction a priori: any act whatsoever by anyone that causes harm compels the person at fault to repair that damage.9 Hence, victims of frauds can seek compensation from the author, accomplices, or any third party who participated in or facilitated the fraud. The only limiting factor lies in establishing a direct causal link between the wrongful act and the harm suffered by the victims. Ultimately, all the parties whose wrongful actions will have been deemed in direct causal connection with the harm suffered can be held liable to compensate the victims.
Under no circumstance can French courts, either civil or criminal, award punitive damages.
Length of the proceedings
With the usual caveat that the actual length of a procedure can vary widely from one case to another and depends on a variety of factors, a procedure before civil courts generally lasts between 12 and 18 months in the first instance and another 12 to 18 months on appeal.
Criminal actions often last significantly longer, as the investigative phase may be very lengthy, especially in complex fraud cases. Furthermore, as the civil and criminal sides become closely intertwined, the advancement of the former aspect can be held up by incidents related only to the latter.
ii Defences to fraud claims
Indeed, due to the intricated nature of frauds, which often entail elaborate schemes and skilful execution, defences like act of god or force majeure will most likely not be available.
Statute of limitations
Statute of limitations before civil courts
The general limitation period in civil matters is five years from the day claimants knew or should have known the facts allowing them to bring a claim.12 Hence, if the wrongdoing is actively concealed for a long time, the limitation period will only start running from the moment victims will be deemed to have had sufficient knowledge of it to act, though it cannot extend further than 20 years from the day the facts took place.13
Statute of limitations before criminal courts
Although compensation claims are civil in nature, when a civil claim for monetary compensation is brought before the criminal courts, it is governed by the statute of limitations applying to the state's criminal action.14
The statute of limitations for the most serious felonies (crimes, for which a sentence of more than 10 years of imprisonment is incurred)15 is 20 years from the date the felony was committed,16 while that for slightly less serious felonies (délits, for which a sentence of less than 10 years of imprisonment or a fine of at least €3,750 is incurred)17 is six years from that date.18
In both cases, when the offence was concealed, the limitation period does not start running until the day it was uncovered in a way that allows the criminal action to be set in motion. This delaying can however not extend the limitation further than 30 years from the date the felony was committed in case of crimes, and 12 years for délits.19
By way of illustration, depending on the circumstances in which they were perpetrated, theft20 and money laundering21 can either be délits or crimes, whereas embezzlement22 and corruption23 will always be délits.
Although general waivers of contractual liability are lawful under French law, case law has consistently refused to enforce such clauses when the defendant voluntarily or malignly decided to breach the contract. Hence, this defence would most likely not be available to defendants in fraud cases.
Influence of the role of the victim on the defendant's liability
Under French law, victims' behaviour may be taken into account and, when deemed the sole or partial cause of the damage, lead to the defendant being fully or partially exonerated.24
In fraud cases, a decision from the French Court of Cassation (France's highest court in civil and criminal matters) issued in the famous Kerviel v. Société Générale case,25 declared that the victim's own fault could be taken into account when assessing the amount of damages that the defendant should be ordered to pay.26 The judges found that the fraud committed was only made possible by an institutional failure of the bank, which did not have appropriate measures in place to prevent an employee from going rogue. It led to the monetary compensation being reduced to €1 million, down from the staggering €4,915,610,154 initially issued.
Defences specific to a civil action brought before criminal courts
Specific defences are available to defendants who are tried before criminal courts, owing to the fact that criminal courts' jurisdiction to decide on civil matters exists only insofar as the defendant is found liable of a criminal offence.27 Thus, all the events that lead to the extinction of the criminal action prevent victims from suing the suspect before criminal courts. This includes deals made by the defendant with the public prosecutor,28 the lapse of the criminal statute of limitations29 or the acquittal of the defendant.30
Seizure and evidence
i Securing assets and proceeds
Securing assets in civil proceedings
A distinction must be drawn between securing assets against private parties and securing assets against sovereign states.
Securing assets against private parties
Claimants can apply to the court to be granted the authorisation to perform interim attachments on any property belonging to the defendant, provided they show that:31
- their claim is established prima facie: claimants must show that they have a standing claim against the defendant; and
- there is a risk that they will not be able to collect their debt: this risk can be objective (the defendant's poor financial situation) or subjective (the defendant's willingness not to pay).
This application, which is ex parte, can be made either before the beginning of the proceedings on the merits, or in support of pending proceedings in France or abroad.
While in theory, the nature – contractual or tortious – of the claim is irrelevant, experience shows that French courts are somewhat less easily convinced that a debt exists prima facie when grounded in tort rather than stemming from a contract. For tort claims, claimants will thus need to prove the likeliness of their claim. Notably, chances may improve if proceedings on the merits have already been started, not least because the writ of summons can then be produced before the French judge, highlighting the seriousness of the claim.
The court authorisation must specify the amount for which security can be taken and the type of assets to be attached.32 The interim attachment must be carried out within three months from the date of the order.33 Once this period has lapsed, claimants must seek a new authorisation. Furthermore, when the authorisation has been granted before any action on the merits has been started against the defendant, claimants have one month from the performance of the first interim measure to take steps to obtain an enforceable title against their debtor.34
Securing assets against sovereign states
Since 2016, attachment – be it interim or final – of assets belonging to foreign states and located in France are subject to a prior authorisation from the Paris enforcement court.35
Authorisation to perform attachments against sovereign states' assets can only be granted when one of the following conditions is met:36
- the state has expressly (and in some cases, specifically) agreed to the measure;
- the state has reserved or assigned the assets the attachment of which is sought to the performance of the obligation giving rise to the dispute; and
- a judgment or arbitral award has been issued against the state and the assets at stake are specifically used or intended to be used by the state in any manner other than for a non-commercial public service and are linked to the entity against which the action was brought.
Securing assets in criminal proceedings
Criminal authorities can attach assets for two purposes: safeguarding pieces of evidence or securing the enforcement of a future judgment. Only the second type of attachment will be studied here.
First, authorities can perform interim attachment following the same process as described above for civil attachments when the felony that is being prosecuted has been committed by an organised group.37 This way of securing assets has, however, been less and less used since the introduction, in 2010, of a new section in the criminal procedure code governing the attachment of assets in view of their confiscation.
Indeed, if found guilty, the debtor can have some of his or her assets confiscated as a further conviction under French criminal law.38 In order to make sure that these assets still exist by the time the case is decided, criminal authorities can attach these assets.39 The conditions for attaching the assets differ depending on the type of asset (real estate, physical or intangible movable assets, etc.).40
Attachments made by the criminal authorities freeze any ongoing civil enforcement proceedings and prevent the defendant's creditors from bringing new ones.41 This does not mean, however, that the state trumps private creditors: if the asset is ultimately confiscated and liquidated, creditors who had performed enforcement measures on it before the criminal attachment was made will be paid before the state.42
ii Obtaining evidence
Obtaining evidence in civil proceedings
Pursuant to Article 145 of the French Code of Civil Procedure, claimants can seek inter partes or, if circumstances justify it, ex parte, evidentiary measures from the court to obtain or preserve evidence on which the outcome of a dispute may rest. A number of conditions must be met for this action to be successful:
- it can only be brought before any action on the merits has been started (though similar provisions exist when an action is pending);
- claimants must prove they have a realistic, non-frivolous claim on the merits and that the measure they seek can actually be useful in resolving the dispute; and
- only legally admissible evidentiary measures can be ordered.43
Measures can be ordered against the prospective defendant or defendants or any third party.44
The right to privacy and trade or business secrets are not in themselves a bar to obtaining documents through this action.45 It is up to the judge to assess the interest in balance and decide whether the requested measure is necessary and proportionate. Banks can oppose banking secrecy when they are third parties to the dispute, but not when they are defendants.46
The existence of a fraudulent context can be leveraged to justify the need of an ex-parte decision, as the issue of evidence disappearing is more pressing than in any other case.
Provided all requirements are met for its application, Article 145 can be a very powerful tool: claimants have obtained authorisations akin to search orders, pursuant to which a bailiff could visit the premises of the targeted party and collect copies of paper files and electronic records based on a predetermined list of keywords.47
Obtaining evidence in criminal proceedings
The guiding principles governing the gathering of evidence by public authorities in criminal proceedings are those of legality and loyalty. The legality principle means proof of an offence cannot be gathered by committing another offence. The loyalty principle entails that an investigator cannot obtain proof of an offence by provoking it or devising schemes and ruses to uncover information.48 Within these boundaries, public authorities can take all measures that can help uncover the truth: no type of evidence is given a superior legal value to another, and the means by which an offence can be proven are not restricted.
Seeking reparation before criminal courts allows victims to have access to the entirety of the criminal file,49 who can thus take advantage of the full investigative powers of the criminal authority to build their civil case. Victims can even request from the investigative judge that any act that appears useful to uncover the truth, such as but not limited to hearing a witness or requesting that a party produce a document, be ordered.50
Fraud in specific contexts
i Banking and money laundering
Laundering the proceeds of a felony carries severe sentences under French criminal law:
- up to five years of prison and a fine of up to €375,000 for simple laundering;51 and
- up to 10 years of prison and a fine of up to €750,000 for aggravated laundering, that is when this felony is committed on a regular basis or by leveraging advantages gained through one's professional activity.52
For legal persons, the fines are of up to €1,875,000 and € 3,750,000 respectively.53
The amount of the fine can be increased to up to half the value of the goods that were laundered.54 If the felony the proceeds of which were laundered carries a higher prison sentence than those specified above, then the sentences attached to that felony apply to the laundering of its proceeds, provided the author of the laundering was aware of the felony through which the goods to be laundered were obtained.55
In addition, France has introduced sweeping regulations in the past decades aiming at preventing the use of the financial system to launder money. In essence, these regulations impose on a large scope of institutions and individuals (including but not limited to financial institutions, accounting and law professionals and real estate brokers) obligations pertaining to:
- a better and closer identification and knowledge of clientele (what is frequently referred to as 'KYC' or 'know your client' obligations);
- the implementation of heightened scrutiny measures when risky clients are identified;
- the reporting of suspicious activities to a dedicated state agency called Tracfin;
- the absolute compliance with national, European and UN-related sanction regimes;
- the conservation of documents; and
- the conception and implementation of robust internal checks and procedures aimed at preventing money laundering.
The administrative or regulatory bodies in charge of overseeing each category of corporations and individuals covered by these anti-money laundering regulations are tasked with controlling their enforcement.56 As far as banks are concerned, sanctions for non-compliance with their obligation in that domain range from a simple warning to the revocation of the banking licence, as well as fines of up to €100 million or 10 per cent of the total turnover, whichever is the highest.57
Pursuant to Article L. 622-21 of French Commercial Code, the judgment opening insolvency proceedings to the benefit of a debtor forbids any creditor whose debt predates the judgment to initiate or pursue a claim seeking an order to pay against the debtor. Likewise, creditors can no longer initiate enforcement proceedings against the debtor, and any enforcement proceedings ongoing at the time of the insolvency judgment will be put on hold. In other terms, creditors lose their individual right to recover their claim: the treatment of the insolvent debtor's passive will be made collectively.
In that regard, French law provides for mechanisms to reconstitute the debtor's assets. In a nutshell, acts made by the debtor up to 18 months before the judgment opening the insolvency proceeding, by which the debtor impoverished itself, can be – and, for some, must be – declared null and void.58
Finally, it is a felony for debtors to wilfully organise or aggravate their insolvency – in the economic, rather than legal, sense of the term – either by increasing their liabilities or reducing the consistence of their assets, or by decreasing or concealing all or part of their income, or by concealing some of their assets, with a view to evading the enforcement of any payment order issued by a criminal or a civil court, but only in tort, quasi-delict or maintenance matters.59 This offence carries a sentence of up to three years of prison and a fine of up to €45,000.
Criminal offences cannot be tried through arbitration in France. Arbitral tribunals can, however, hear civil claims stemming from fraudulent behaviour, but there is no particular feature compared to any other contractual arbitration.
Issues regarding arbitral award obtained fraudulently or ratifying fraudulent behaviours are addressed below in Sections V.iv and V.v.
iv Fraud's effect on evidentiary rules and legal privilege
While fraud can be a facilitating factor to obtaining orders for investigative measures ex parte, as set-out at Section III.ii above, it does not have in itself any particular effect on evidentiary rules or legal privilege in France.
i Conflict of law and choice of law in fraud claims
The question of the law applicable to civil liability claims in France is governed by European Regulation No. 864/2007 of 11 July 2007 on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations (Rome II) for tort claims, and by European Regulation No. 593/2008 of 17 June 2008 on the law applicable to contractual obligations (Rome I) for contractual claims. Both have universal application, meaning that any law specified by each regulation shall apply whether or not it is the law of an EU Member State.60
If compensation is sought in the context of a contractual claim, the law applicable will be the one chosen by the parties.61 Absent any choice of the parties to that effect, the Rome I Regulation specifies which law should apply, depending on the type of contract giving rise to the dispute:62 for instance, a contract for the provision of services shall be governed by the law of the country where the service provider has his or her habitual residence.63
Conversely, if compensation is grounded in tort, the applicable law shall be the law of the country in which the damage occurs irrespective of the country in which the event giving rise to the damage occurred and irrespective of the country or countries in which the indirect consequences of that event occur,64 unless the defendant and the claimant both have their habitual residence in the same country at the time when the damage occurs, in which case the law of that country shall apply.65 However, both of these laws can be set-aside where it is clear from all the circumstances of the case that the tort is manifestly more closely connected with another country, whose law shall then apply.66 All of the potential applicable laws for a tort claim can in turn be overridden if parties agree to submit their dispute to another law, which can be made either after the event giving rise to the damage occurred, or before if all parties involved are pursuing a commercial activity.67
ii Collection of evidence in support of proceedings abroad
By virtue of a French blocking statute, it is a felony for anyone to ask for, seek or communicate in written, oral or any other form, economic, business, industrial, financial or technical document or intelligence aimed at serving as evidence in the context of foreign judicial or administrative proceedings, except in the cases specified by law and treaties.68
Collection of evidence in civil proceedings in France is governed by three general sets of legislation, depending on which country the request emanates from:
- for all EU Member States except Denmark, collection of evidence is made pursuant to Regulation No. 1206/2001 of 28 May 2001 on cooperation between the courts of the Member States in the taking of evidence in civil or commercial matters;
- for non-EU Member States (and Denmark) who are party to the Hague Convention on the taking of evidence abroad in civil or commercial matters,69 collection of evidence is made following the rules set out in that convention; and
- for all other states, collection of evidence is carried out pursuant to French municipal law.70
On top of these three sets of regulations, France has entered into a number of bilateral conventions that may complement or supersede them when they heighten the level of cooperation and integration.71
As regards criminal proceedings, France is party to a number of judicial cooperation treaties, which govern how French and foreign authorities can cooperate in the collection of evidence in support of proceedings abroad.72 Furthermore, some French administrative authorities have concluded cooperation agreements directly with their foreign counterparts.73 Where no international instrument is applicable, guidance is to be found in French domestic law.74
A general principle common to both civil and criminal proceedings is that the taking of evidence validly requested by a foreign authority is to be carried out according to local rules, namely, French law and procedures, unless special requests are made by the requesting authority, in which case the French authorities will try to accommodate those requests within the boundaries of their own powers.75
iii Seizure of assets or proceeds of fraud in support of the victim of fraud
If and when victims are successful in court and obtain an enforceable title against the fraudsters, and if the defendants do not pay spontaneously, creditors can seek to enforce the decision against their debtor's assets. In France, attachments are made in rem, rather than in personam: no equivalent to a Mareva injunction exists under French law. Specifics of attachment procedure vary depending on the nature of the assets seized (real estate, tangible movable property, debts, safes, etc.).
Furthermore, on top of the 'standard' prison sentences and fines that offences carry, French criminal law provides that an additional punishment, in the form of confiscation, can be ordered for any crime or délit carrying a prison sentence of at least one year.76 This covers offences such as theft, money-laundering, embezzlement and corruption.
Any good that was used or intended to be used to carry out the offence can be confiscated, as well as any proceeds from that offence.77
Under certain conditions, victims who have sought and obtained civil compensation before criminal courts can recover these sums on the assets that were confiscated as mentioned above.78
iv Enforcement of judgments granted abroad in relation to fraud claims
Under French law, recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments79 and arbitral awards80 can be denied if their enforcement would lead to a breach of France's conception of international public policy. This is the case when that decision ratifies a fraudulent situation, for instance by enforcing a contract that was obtained though corruption,81 or by allowing a party to benefit from its fraudulent activities, such as money-laundering.82 In these instances, French courts can review all the factual and legal elements of the case file to determine whether the recognition of a given decision would contravene French international public policy.
v Fraud as a defence to enforcement of judgments granted abroad
Foreign judgments or arbitral awards may themselves be the object or the result of a fraud.
Foreign judgments whose sole purpose is to circumvent the effect of French law or the jurisdiction of French courts, to reach a solution that would not have been possible to obtain in France, will not be recognised and enforced in France.83 The same goes for arbitral awards.84
Orchestrated arbitration and bogus court decision are naturally not enforceable in France. By way of illustration, a foreign decision that opens winding-up proceedings aiming at liquidating a company that holds an important debt over the state whose courts issued that judgment was denied recognition in France, on the basis that due process was violated and the motivation of the decision was faulty and at times contradictory.85 Likewise, a judgment issued in violation of due process abroad will not be recognised in France.86
On 26 May 2021, the Court of Cassation found that a third party could challenge the order granting exequatur to an international arbitral award using the mechanism of 'tierce opposition' (third-party opposition),87 which allows anyone who is directly affected by a court decision to which it is not a party to challenge it before the judge who issued it.88 In the case at hand, the Court of Cassation quashed the decision of the Paris Court of Appeal, which dismissed as inadmissible the challenge brought by the Central Bank of Libya against the order that made an arbitral award issued against the Libyan State enforceable in France.
This evolution does not bode well for creditors looking to enforce their awards in France, as it just adds a whole range of new potential challenges and hurdles to be cleared, especially in the context of enforcement against fraudsters in complex fraudulent schemes or against sovereign states' alter egos – just as it is in the case leading to that decision.
1 Emmanuel Kaspereit and Prosha Dehghani are partners and Martin Brasart is associate at Archipel in Paris.
2 Attentive readers could object that, in the past couple of decades, a trend can be identified in French criminal law to take more into account the victims' interests. However, these developments remain anecdotical in the context of white-collar crime, and therefore will not be addressed here.
3 French Civil Code, Articles 1352 s.
4 On the question of attachment of assets in criminal proceedings, see Sections III.ii and V.iii below.
5 French Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 87.
6 French Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 85.
7 French Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 5. The opposite is not true: victims that first chose to act before criminal court can freely switch to the civil courts if their case has not already been decided by the criminal courts (French Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 426).
8 French Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 4. The same article specified that non-monetary claims remain unaffected.
9 French Civil Code, Article 1240.
10 For questions regarding applicable law, see Section V.i below.
11 In addition, naturally, to the most obvious defence of challenging the claim on the merits.
12 French Civil Code, Article 2224.
13 French Civil Code, Article 2232. See J.-D. Pellier, 'Retour sur le délai butoir de l'article 2232 du code civil', Recueil Dalloz, 2018, p. 2148, §7.
14 French Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 10.
15 French Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 131-1.
16 French Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 7.
17 French Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 381.
18 French Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 8.
19 French Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 9-1.
20 French Criminal Code, Articles 311-1 s.
21 French Criminal Code, Articles 324-1 s.
22 French Criminal Code, Articles 314-1 s.
23 French Criminal Code, Articles 433-1 s. and 445-1 s.
24 See Civ. 1, 23 November 1999, No. 91-12.595 for an example.
25 Crim., 19 March 2014, No. 12-87.416.
26 CA Versailles, 23 September 2016, No. 14/01570.
27 This stems from Article 3 of the French Code of Criminal Procedure (see Crim., 18 November 2014, No. 13-88.240 for an illustration). In that respect, whether defendants are ultimately sentenced is irrelevant. What matters is that the criminal courts find that they did commit the fraudulent act and are criminally liable.
28 French Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 41-1-1.
29 On this point, see above in that section.
30 Crim., 1 April 2020, No. 19-80.069.
31 French Code of Civil Enforcement Procedures, Article l. 511-1.
32 French Code of Civil Enforcement Procedures, Article r. 511-4.
33 French Code of Civil Enforcement Procedures, Article r. 511-6.
34 French Code of Civil Enforcement Procedures, Article r. 511-7.
35 French Code of Civil Enforcement Procedures, Article l. 111-1-1.
36 French Code of Civil Enforcement Procedures, Article L. 111-1-3. These form a fully distinct set of requirements from those governing interim attachments against private parties.
37 French Code of Criminal Procedures, Article 706-103.
38 On this point, see Section V.iii below.
39 See L.Ascensi, Droit et pratique des saisies et confiscations pénales, Dalloz, 1st ed., 2019, p. 11, §00.10
40 The matter is governed by Articles 706-141 à 706-158 of the French code of criminal procedure.
41 French Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 706–145, §2.
42 French Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 706–145, §3.
43 For instance, a French court cannot order investigative measures be conducted abroad (Civ. 1, 11 December 2001, No. 00-18.547).
44 Civ. 2, 27 February 2014, No. 13-10.013.
45 Civ. 1, 3 November 2016, No. 15-20.495; Civ. 1, 20 September 2017, No. 16-13.082.
46 Com., 15 May 2019, No. 1840.491.
47 See for instance CA Paris (1-2), 23 May 2019, RG No. 17/22558.
48 Crim., 29 June 1993, No. 93-80.544. For instance, police officers cannot use information collected by listening to two suspects who were put in adjacent cells equipped with concealed recording devices (Ass. Plén., 6 mars 2015, No. 14-84.339).
49 French Criminal Code, Preliminary Article, II and Article 114.
50 French Criminal Code, Article 82-1.
51 French Criminal Code, Article 324-1.
52 French Criminal Code, Article 324-2.
53 French Criminal Code, Article 131-38.
54 French Criminal Code, Article 324-3.
55 French Criminal Code, Article 324-4.
56 French Monetary and Financial Code, Article L. 561-36.
57 French Monetary and Financial Code, Articles L. 561-36-1, VI and L. 612-39.
58 French Commercial Code, Articles L. 631-1 and L. 632-2.
59 French Criminal Code, Article 314-7.
60 Rome I Regulation, Article 2; Rome II Regulation, Article 3.
61 Rome I Regulation, Article 3.
62 Rome I Regulation, Article 4.
63 Rome I Regulation, Article 4(b).
64 Rome II Regulation, Article 4.1. This rule inevitably raises the complex question of the localisation of the damage, especially in white-collar crime where the harm is almost always exclusively financial. There is not enough space in this chapter to elaborate on this question. Suffice it to say that the matter is not clearly settled yet: in the context of conflict of jurisdiction, the ECJ seems to admit that a purely financial harm is located at the domicile of the victim (see, e.g., ECJ, 12 September 2018, No. C-304/17). Yet, the solution is not always so straightforward, especially when the bank account on which the actual harm was felt is not located in the same country as the victim's domicile (see CA Paris (5-16), 12 November 2019, No 11/2019).
65 Rome II Regulation, Article 4.2.
66 Rome II Regulation, Article 4.3.
67 Rome II Regulation, Article 4.3.
68 Law No. 68-678 of 26 July 1968, Article 1 bis.
69 Hague Conference on Private International Law, Convention on the take of evidence abroad in civil or commercial matters, 18 March 1970. At the date of writing, 64 states are members.
70 French Code of Civil Procedure, Articles 735 to 748.
71 A comprehensive, country-by-country list is available at http://www.justice.gouv.fr/europe-et-international-10045/entraide-civile-internationale-11847/recherche-par-territoire-19584.html.
72 All of the treaties entered into by France are accessible and searchable on the French Ministry of Foreign affairs website https://basedoc.diplomatie.gouv.fr/exl-php/recherche/mae_internet___traites.
73 For instance the AMF, the French regulatory body for financial markets, has dozens of cooperation agreements in place with other financial markets authorities from around the world (all of them available at www.amf-france.org/fr/lamf/nos-accords-de-cooperation/conventions-bilaterales).
74 French Code of Criminal Procedure, Articles 694 s.
75 French Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 694-3; French Code of Civil Procedure, Article 739.
76 French Criminal Code, Article 14.
77 French Criminal Code, Article 131-21.
78 French Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 706–164.
79 For non-UE foreign judgments, see: Civ. 1, 20 February 2007, No. 05-14.082 (Cornelissen); For judgments from UE Member States, see: UE Regulation No. 1215/2012 of 12 December 2012 (Brussels I (Recast)), Article 45.
80 French Civil Procedure Code, Articles 1514, 1520 and 1522.
81 CA Paris (1-1), 28 May 2019, No. 16/11182; CA Paris (5-16), 25 May 2021, No. 18/18708.
82 CA Paris (1-1), 21 February 2017, No. 15-01650.
83 Civ. 1, 20 February 2007, No. 05-14.082 (Cornelissen); Civ. 1, 30 January 2013, No. 11-10.588 (Gazprom).
84 CA Paris (5-16), 11 May 2021, No. 18/06076.
85 TGI Paris, 15 July 2015, No. 15/57263, confirmed by CA Paris (1-1), 12 September 2017, No. 15/24881 and Civ. 1, 16 January 2019, No. 17-50.059.
86 TGI Paris, 27 March 2019, No. 18/05283; upheld by CA Paris (3-5), 25 May 2021, No. 19/14251.
87 Civ. 1, 26 May 2021, No. 19-23.996.
88 French Code of Civil Procedure, Article 585.