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► Full Reference: M.-A. Frison-Roche, "Le principe de proximité systémique active, corolaire du renouvellement du principe de souveraineté par le Droit de la Compliance" ("The principle of active systemic proximity: corollary of the renewal of the principle of sovereignty by Compliance Law"), in M.-A. Frison-Roche (ed.), Les Buts Monumentaux de la Compliance, coll. "Régulations & Compliance", Journal of Regulation & Compliance (JoRC) and Dalloz, 2022, p. 501-520.
📝read the article (in French)
🚧read the bilingual Working Paper which is the basis of this article, with additional developments, technical references and hyperlinks
📕read a general presentation of the book, Les Buts Monumentaux de la Compliance, in which this article is published
► Summary of the article (done by the Journal of Regulation & Compliance): Surprisingly, it is often in a quarrelsome, angry, dissatisfied tone that we first speak of Compliance, especially when Compliance takes a legal form, because it is then we talk about sanctions coming from afar. These sanctions would strike both extremely hard and in an illegitimate way, Law only therefore takes its part in Compliance to increase its brutality: the Law is what would prolong the war between States to better hit this kind of civilian population that would be the companies..., in a new kind of "planetary total war"...
Why so much detestation, which can only be generated by such a presentation?
Because, thanks to the power of Law, Compliance would therefore be the means for a State, finally found, to meddle in the affairs of others to serve its own interests, including those of its companies, to go to war against other States and to the companies they care about without even having to formally declare the war to them. Compliance Law would finally allow a State that is not even a strategist, just smarter, to leave its territory to regulate others. It is true that it seems even more exasperating that it would also be under the guise of virtue and good purposes. Thus, it is not possible to count the number of the writings that describe and comment on the occurrences of the expression "Trojan horse", "economic war", etc. There are thus more articles on this subject of Compliance Law as a means of going to dictate to subjects of law who are nevertheless subject to other legal systems their behavior and to sanction them for having failed to do so, than on all other technical Compliance matters.
As soon as the term "extraterritoriality" is dropped, the knives are drawn. The dejection of defeat... because who can fight against American power, American Law seducing everyone? The call for resistance, or at the very least for "reaction"... In any case, it would be necessary to put the analysis back on its true terrain: politics, conquest, war, so leaving the legal technique there, area which would be good for the naive and above all count the divisions amassed on each side of the borders, then note that only the United States would have had the ingenuity to count many of them, with their armada of judges, prosecutors and lawyers, with Compliance Law amassed like so many gold coins since the 1930s, American companies relaying the assault by internalizing Compliance Law through internal codes, law that is "soft" only in name, and community standards governing the planet according to American principles, the solution then consisting of line up as many of them as possible in reaction, then attempt to "block" the assault. Because if there is no Global Law, Compliance Law would have succeeded in globalizing American Law.
The technique of blocking laws would therefore be the happy outcome on which the forces should concentrate to restore "sovereignty", since Europe had been invaded, by surprise by some famous texts (FCPA) and some cases whose evocation (BNP case) to the French ear sounds like a Waterloo. Compliance Law would therefore only be a morne plaine...
But is this how we should understand the notion of Sovereignty? Has the so-called question of "the extraterritoriality of Compliance Law" not been totally biased by the question, certainly important but with both very precise and extremely specific outlines, of embargoes which have almost not related to Compliance Law?
The first thing to do is therefore to see more clearly in this kind of fight of extraterritoriality, by isolating the question of embargoes from other objects which should not be assessed in the same way (I).
This done, it appears that where Compliance Law is required, it must be effectively indifferent to the territory: because Compliance Law intervenes where the territory, in the very concrete sense of the land in which we are anchor is not present in the situation to be governed, situation to which our minds have so much difficulty adapting and which, however, is now the most common situation: finance, space, digital. If we want the idea of civilization to remain there, that the notion of "limit" be central there. However, Sovereignty is not linked to omnipotence, it is the grandchildren who believe that, it is on the contrary linked to the notion of limits (II).
But if the limit had been naturally given to human beings by the territory, the ground on which we walk and the border on which we stumble and which protects us from aggression, if the limit had been naturally given to human beings by death and the oblivion into which our body and our imagination eventually fall. Indeed, technology erases both natural limits. The Law was the very reflection of these limits, since it was built on the idea of life and death, with this idea that, for example, we could no longer continue to live after our death. Digital technology could challenge this. In the same way, Law had in the same "natural" way reflected the terrestrial borders, since Public International Law being internal Public Law, took care that each sovereign subject remained in its terrestrial borders and did not go beyond, without the agreement of others, Public International Law organizing both the friendly reception of the other, by treaties and diplomacy, as well as unfriendly entry, by the Law of War, while Private International Law welcomes foreign legal systems if a extraterritorial element is already present in the situation.
The complexity of the rules and the subtlety of the solutions do not modify the solidity of this base, always linking the Law to the material reality of this world which are our bodies, which appear and disappear and our "being" with them, and the earth squared by borders. Borders have always been crossed, International Commercial Law being only an economic and financial translation of this natural taste for travel which does not question the territory, human beings passing from one to another.
But the Global has arrived, not only in its opportunities, being not an issue because one can always give up the best, but also in global risks whose birth, development and result are not mastered and of which it is not relevant to thinking only of repairing the damage, because preventing risks from degenerating into a systemic catastrophe is what is at stake today. What if territory slips away and hubris seizes human beings who claim that technology could be the new wings leading a fortunate few to the sun of immortality? We could go towards a world that is both catastrophic and limitless, two qualifiers that classical philosophers considered identical.
Law being what brings measure, therefore limits in a world which, through technology, promises to some the deliverance of all these "natural" limits, could, by the new branch of Compliance Law, again inserting limits to a world which, without this contribution, would become disproportionate, some being able to dispose of others without any limit: in doing so, Compliance Law would then become an instrument of Sovereignty, in that it could impose limits, not by powerlessness but on the contrary by the force of Law. This explains why Compliance is so expressly linked to the political project of "Digital Sovereignty".
To renew this relationship between Law and Sovereignty, where the State takes a new place, we must think of new principles. A new principle is proposed here: the Principle of "Proximity", which must be inserted into the Ex-Ante and systemic Law that is Compliance Law. Thus inserted, the Principle of Proximity can be defined in a negative way, without resorting to the notion of territory, and in a positive way, to posit as being "close" what is close systemically, in the present and in the future, Compliance Law being a branch of Systemic Law having as its object the Future.
Thus, thinking in terms of Proximity consists of conceiving this notion as a Systemic Principle, which then renews the notion of Sovereignty and founds the action of entities in a position to act: Companies (III).
If we think of proximity not in a territorial way, the territory having a strong political dimension but not a systemic dimension, but if we think of systemic proximity in a concrete way through the direct effects of an object whose situation immediately impacts ours (as in the climatic space, or in the digital space), then the notion of territory is no longer primary, and we can do without it.
If the idea of Humanism should finally have some reality, in the same way that a company donneuse d'ordre ("order giver") has a duty of Compliance regarding who works for it, this again meets the definition of Compliance Law as the protector of human beings who are close because they are internalized in the object consumers take. It is this legal technique that allows the transmission, with the thing sold, of the procedural right of action for contractual liability.
Therefore, a Principle of Active Systemic Proximity justifies the action of companies to intervene, in the same way that public authorities are then legitimate to supervise them in the indifference of the formal legal connection, principe of indifference already functioning in the digital space and in environmental and humanist vigilance.
It is therefore appropriate to no longer be hampered by what is a bad quarrel of the extraterritoriality of Compliance Law (I), to show the consubstantial Indifference to the territory of this new branch of Law (II) and to propose the formulation of a new Principle: the "Principle of Active Systemic Proximity (III).