March 22, 2020


Compliance and Extraterritoriality: a natural and effective couple for the future of Europe

by Marie-Anne Frison-Roche

ComplianceTech©. Pour lire ce document de travail en français, cliquer sur le drapeau français

This working paper is the basis for an article in the French Law Journal Le Clunet.


When we compare the terms "Compliance" and "Extraterritoriality", it is often with dissatisfaction, even anger and indignation. On the momentum, after having expressed a principle of disapproval of such a merger, attention is focused on how we can fight against it, to break the link between Compliance and Extraterritoriality. But do we have to go so fast? Is this negative initial assessment correct?

Indeed, thus gone, it is frequently explained that the binding mechanisms of Compliance are suffered, that they come from abroad!footnote-1750, that they apply with efficiency but in an illegitimate way, without agreement of the one who must submit to it, whose resistance is therefore certainly ineffective but nevertheless justified. In the same spirit, when we start to shell the cases, like so many scars, sort of rosary, even crown of thorns, BNPP case!footnote-1718, Astom case!footnote-1717, etc., the wounds not yet closed turn into reproaches made against the rules, public authorities, even reproaches made against named people.

We are leaving this kind of complaint against X, which targets what would be this appalling "Compliance", this Law which would be both hostile and mechanical which would not have been able to stay within the limits of borders, Compliance being thus placed in contrast to sovereignty and protection, which presuppose staying within its limits!footnote-1716 and being able to protect companies from abroad. More concretely, this presentation targets more directly the United States, which uses "the legal weapon", slipped under what is then designated as "the artifice of the Law" with extraterritorial scope. But this effect would in reality be the very object of the whole: their hegemonic will to better organize at least a global racket, notably through the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and at best a world government through notably the embargoes.Those who believed otherwise would be naive or foolish. This silences the opponents because who likes this costume? So the world would be put in a ruled cut; what the mafia could not have done, Compliance Law would have obtained, offering the whole world to the United States thanks to the extraterritoriality of its national Law.

Compliance Law would thus become the very negation of Law, since it has the effect, even the purpose (barely concealed by strategic, powerful and shameless States), of counting borders for nothing, whereas Public International Law, in that it is built between the sovereign subjects of law that are the States presupposes the primary respect for borders to better exceed them while Private International Law takes the same postulate to better welcome foreign Law in situations presenting a foreign element!footnote-1726. Jurists believed in the force of Law; by Compliance, we would return to the sad reality that only the powerful, here the United States, dominate and - ironically - it is under the pretext of Law that they do it. It would be necessary to be well duped, or accomplice, to see there still legal where there is only the balance of powers. When one is more intelligent or skilful than that, one understands that the "small" can only be "subject" to the Compliance Law, one would have to be powerful to be the normative source and its enforcement agent. It is then towards this mis-named Department of Justice (DoJ) that the fearful, hateful and resigned glances turn. 

If you see it that way, what should you do then? The answer is obvious: react!

It is necessary to save the sovereignty, France, companies, the Law itself. If that is how the question is posed, how can we disagree? It is therefore necessary to destroy the Compliance Law and the extra-territoriality of American Law which had found this "Trojan horse", an expression so frequently used. This is the basis for the administrative reports available, for example the Berger-Lellouche!footnote-1719 parliamentary reports and the Gauvainfootnote-1720 report. Both of them broadly develop the two preceding claims, namely that the extra-priority of compliance mechanisms is illegitimate and harmful, since it is a mechanism invented by the Americans and harming the Europeans, or even invented by the Americans to harm Europeans, the description being made in much more violent terms than those used here. The description seems acquired, the reflections therefore relate to the remedies. The reaction is most often to "block" the Compliance Law in its extraterritorial effect.

But without discussing the effectiveness of the remedies proposed downstream, it is necessary to return to this description so widely shared made upstream. Because many elements on the contrary lead to affirm that ComplianceLaw first of all and by nature can only be extraterritorial and that it must be. Whether or not the State in which it was created has malicious intentions. The description which is made to us most often describes particular cases from which we draw generalities, but we cannot reduce Compliance Law to the already cooled cases, as BNPP case, or to the always hot case of the American embargo on Iran. Furthermore, one cannot take the issue of embargoes and draw conclusions, legitimate for it, but which would apply to the whole of Compliance Law. The fact that theCompliance Law is a branch of Law at the stage still of emergence can lead to this confusion which consists in taking the part for the whole, but it is very regrettable because what is justified for the embargoes does not is in no way relevant for all Compliance Law, of which precisely the Law of embargoes is only a small part, even an abusive use. This overlapping is not often perceived, because the definition of Compliance Law and its criterion are not clearly enough defined, namely the existence of a "monumental goal"!footnote-1725, which does not exist in an embargo decided unilaterally by an order decreed by the President of the United States, but which exists in all other cases and fully justifies extraterritoriality, extraterritoriality which is even consubstantial with Compliance Law (I).

Once we have distinguished the embargoes, as an atypical, sometimes even illegitimate part, of Compliance Law, we should continue this work of distinction by emphasizing that the United States has certainly invented Compliance Law!footnote-1721 but only developed a mechanical concept for the prevention and management of systemic risks. Europe has taken up this systemic conception of the protection of systems, for example financial or banking, but superimposed another conception, drawing on its deep humanist tradition!footnote-1722, whose protection of personal data is only an example and whose monumental goal is the protection of the human being. This primary concern then justifies the European use of Compliance mechanisms to interfere with global objects regardless of their location, especially the environment, and to block the entry onto the ground of objects that enter, which is contrary to Competition Law but builds a legitimate barrier under this Compliance Law, in the indifference of an extraterritorial origin (II).

Indeed, this branch of the new Law which is Compliance Law is not reducible to Competition Law!footnote-1723, any more than it is not reducible to a method. It is a substantial, extraterritorial Law because the "monumental goals" which give it substantial unity are extraterritorial. This can directly contribute to the future of a Europe which on the one hand will be able to pursue, in an extraterritorial manner, monumental humanist goals, in the field of the environment or the protection of personal information or access to the Law (in particular by the technique of compliance programs) and which, on the other hand, by the techniques of traceability of products!footnote-1724, will have the means not to bring in products manufactured in an indecent manner, except in countries which do not grant value than in Competition Law to enter the WTO.



Read the developments below.



Ce par quoi l'on commence presque toujours, le Droit de la Compliance étant "étrange" notamment parce qu'il vient des Etats-Unis, v. Frison-Roche, M.-A., Le Droit de la Compliance, 2016. 


V. par ex. Monéger, cas BNPP, ...., in Frison-Roche, M.-A. (dir)., ...


V. par ex. Bismuth, R. Pour une appréhension nuancée de l'extraterritorialité du droit américain - quelques réflexions autour des procédures et sanctions visant Alstom et BNP Paris, 2015. 


Sur la définition de la souveraineté comme l'aptitude à comprendre ses limites et à demeurer dans ses limites, voire à les instituer soi-même, la souveraineté étant intime de l'idée d'Etat de Droit, v. Supiot, A., Mondialisation et Globalisation, ....


Pour le rappel de ces éléments de base et leur mise en perspective par rapport au Droit de la Compliance, v. Frison-Roche, M.-A. Le cas de l'Amazonie, ....


Rapport Berger-Lellouche, ....


Rapport Gauvain, ....


Critère dégagé en 2016 : Frison-Roche, M.-A., Le Droit de la Compliance. 


Frison-Roche, M.-A., Compliance : hier, aujourd'hui, demain, 2017. 


Frison-Roche, M.-A., Compliance Europe humaniste, 2019. 


Frison-Roche, M.-A., Droit de la concurrence et Droit de la compliance, 2018


Sur les liens entre le Droit de la Compliance et la technologie de la blockchain, v. ....






1. La définition substantielle du Droit de la Compliance par ses "buts monumentaux"

Dans une première conception!footnote-1746, la Compliance consiste  à accroître l'effectivité et l'efficacité des règles dont on regrette la trop grande méconnaissance par les acteurs et la lenteur de sanction en Ex Post : elle consiste alors dans l'obligation faite aux opérateurs de donner à voir l'application de ces règles. Cette application est certes spontanée, la Compliance ayant des points de contact avec l'éthique et la réputation!footnote-1768, mais cette effectivité est néanmoins obligatoire, ce qui justifie néanmoins une répression!footnote-1766. La transformation est déjà grande, notamment en ce qu'elle fait naître un Droit répressif structurel!footnote-1747. Mais si cela n'est que cela, la Compliance est alors une méthode et relève du Droit processuel.  

Dans une seconde conception, fortement substantielle et justifiant seule que la Compliance constitue une branche autonome de Droit, le "Droit de la Compliance"!footnote-1748, celle-ci trouve sa spécificité et son autonomie dans des "buts monumentaux". Cette expression fût proposée en 2016!footnote-1767. Dans un Droit de nature téléologique, des Autorités publiques affirment que des buts doivent être atteints, comme la lutte contre le réchauffement climatique ou l'égalité entre les hommes et les femmes ou la lutte contre la corruption ou la prévention des défaillances de marché. En cela, le Droit de la Compliance est apparenté au Droit de la Régulation, lui-même téléologique et de principe!footnote-1769

Ces buts sont posés comme premiers et essentiels, mais ils ne se réalisent pas, ni par la force des choses ni par la force de l'Etat. En cela, la spécificité substantielle du Droit de la Compliance apparaît, aussi bien par rapport au Droit de la Concurrence (auquel il s'oppose) que par rapport au Droit de la Régulation (qu'il prolonge).

En effet,

en'étaient pas réalisés en eux-même. Ainsi le "principe de concurrence" est certes premier, puisqu'il suffit dans le Droit de la concurrence à faire fonctionner le marché, mais il n'est pas "monumental" puisque la liberté contractuelle et le droit de propriété suffisent à le faire fonctionner. Les buts visés par le Droit de la compliance sont "monumentaux" en ce que des mécanismes simples et généraux comme le contrat et la propriété ne suffisent pas : il faut tout un arsenal de lois particulières, d'Autorité de supervision, de principes secondaires et de décisions Ex Ante pour prétendre les atteindre. En cela le Droit de la Compliance est le prolongement du Droit de la Régulation, qui lui-aussi soutient la "prétention"!footnote-1749 monumental d'atteindre des objectifs que certains visent comme constituant "l'intérêt général".


2. La portée consubstantiellement extraterritoriale du Droit substantiel de la Compliance




1. Les









V. par ex. Garapon, A. et Servan-Schreiber, P., Deals de justice, 


Dans des mécanismes qui relèvent dès lors aussi largement de la "conviction", l'avocat a donc un rôle majeur, y compris hors de tout contentieux de sanction. V. Frison-Roche, M.-A., L'avocat, vecteur de conviction dans le nouveau système de compliance, 2020.


Frison-Roche, M.-A., Introduction au colloque La mesure de l'effectivité et de l'efficacité des outils de la Compliance, 5 mars 2020.


Marin, J.-Cl., ....


Frison-Roche, M.-A., Le Droit de la Compliance, 2016. 


Frison-Roche, M.-A., Le Droit de la Compliance, 2016. 


Un principe est ce qui est affirmé comme devant être respecté d'une façon première. C'est pourquoi ce sont des autorités publiques, voire politiques, qui ont vocation à les exprimer. Cette distinction entre les principes, dont l'édiction est l'apanage du Politique, et les modalités techniques qui impliquent l'édiction de règles techniques générales qui peuvent être prises par des organes non-politiques, est un enjeu central en Droit de la Régulation, puisqu'elle fixe la frontière entre les Gouvernements et les Autorités de Régulation. Elle est très difficile car la distinction entre un principe 


Sur la notion de "prétention" dans le Droit de la Régulation, et dans le Droit de la Compliance, notamment en ce qu'ils affrontent le phénomène naturel de la "globalisation", v. Frison-Roche, M.-A., Le Droit face à la Mondialisation, 2017. 

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