June 17, 2021

Compliance: at the moment

 Compliance Law and Competition: for building, is it necessary to legislate ? Example of quasi-public interest judicial agreement: the French Competition Authority's Statement of June 3, 2021 on Facebook

 

The French law so-called "Sapin 2" of 2016, organized the "convention judiciaire d’intérêt public - CJIP" (Public Interest Judicial Agreement) which allows the prosecutor to undertake not to prosecute a company in returns for this company's commitments for the future. Is this mechanism reserved for this law, which only concerns corruption and bribery? The answer is often positive.

Is it so obvious?

Since the entity having the power to prosecute therefore always has the power not to prosecute. As the company always has the freedom to make commitments for the future. And everything stops.

News in Competition Law illustrate this. On June 9, 2021, as part of a transaction, the Autorité de la concurrence (French Competition Authority) sanctions Google (➡️📝 Communiqué of the Autorité de la Concurrence , translated in English by the French Competition Authority) , which has not contested the facts, for abuse of dominant position for having privileged its services in the online advertising services. Similar facts were alleged against Facebook. But on June 3, 2021, the Autorité de la concurrence (French Competition Authority) published a "communiqué de presse" (➡️📝statement translated in English by the French Competition Authoritysaying that Facebook has, during the investigation, proposed commitments regarding its future behavior. It is remarkable that this statement on Facebook is published as an “acte de régulation” (regulatory act).

Yes, it is indeed an regulatory act about the future and structuring the online advertising area, internalized in this company which engages itself in its future behavior. With its statement, the Competition Authority invites the “acteurs du secteur” (actors of this sector) to make observations, for the development of what will be a sort of compliance program.

In these negotiations which are akin to a game table, where everyone calculates without knowing if they enter into a negotiation or a confrontation, the first game assuming that one shows more cards than in the second, it is indeed towards a kind of Public Interest Judicial Agreement that they are going with a Competition Authority which is both Judge and Prosecutor, concludes the agreement and, through a later decision, gives it force. Under the various legal qualifications, it is indeed the same general mechanism of Compliance Law, well beyond the specific French law known as Sapin 2.

Managed in this way, Compliance Law being an Ex Ante corpus, transforms the Competition Authority, an Ex Post Authority, into an Ex Ante Authority, openly taking "acte de régulation" (Regulatory Act), and allows it to rely on the power of companies, thus “committed”, to structure markets, which are however not regulated. Like advertising or retailing areas (➡️📝see Frison-Roche, M.-A., From Competition Law to Compliance Law: Example of French Competition Authority's decision on central purchasing body in mass distribution, 2020).

Thus Compliance Law has achieved the autonomy of Regulatory Law with regards to the notion, which nevertheless seemed intimate to it, of "sector".

 

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Oct. 15, 2020

Thesaurus : Soft Law

Full reference: Serious Fraud Office, Operational Handbook about Deferred Prosecution Agreements, October 2020

Read the Operational Handbook

Oct. 14, 2019

Interviews

Référence générale : Frison-Roche, M.-A., "La justice pénale est passée de l'inquisitoire à l'accusatoire" (By Compliance, Continental Criminal Justice Mechanisms have come from Inquisitorial Procedure to Adversarial System), Interview in French about the impact of the "conventions judiciaire d'intérêt public", the French equivalent of DPI, and Compliance Procedures in French Law, Lettre des juristes d'affaires, n°1416, October 14, 2019.

Summary :

In this interview and through the three questions asked, the answers show that we have gone from an inquisitorial system to an adversarial system, which is a  sort of Revolution especially in matter of proofw. The French legal system must be adapted, but also or, above all, this conception of Compliance efficiency is a mechanism without a judge. The expression of "deal of justice" is excessive, because precisely if there is a "deal", there is no a "judge" : the prosecutor was not a judge.

These mechanisms are also handled by the administrative Independant Bodies of Regulation or Supervision, which act here as "prosecuting authorities", that is to say as prosecutor. They also "deal" the non-appearance of the judge, the opposite of "justice", in a classical conception which is the figure of the judge. It is true that in the case of the "convention judiciaire d'intérêt public" the French Law requires an approval by the judge of the CJIP: it is then that the stake moved. There is a change of culture: the prosecutor is in the center, the Regulator or the Supervisor are the "prosecuting authority" and it is as approval authority that the judge or the administrative Sanctions Committee intervenes. But later.

When the essential are the proofs obtained in the first lapse of time. The firm or the person can be evaded by asserting his "right to the judge". This judge who seeks the truth while an authority to pursue wants something else: win.

We must understand that. 

 

Read the Interview (in French) and the answers to these three questions: 

  • 1. En quoi les mécanismes de justice négociée, relativement récents en France, bouleversent les concepts hexagonaux de l’ordre judiciaire ? /  How the negotiated justice mechanisms, relatively recent in France, upset the hexagonal concepts of the judiciary?
  • 2. Les entreprises ont-elles véritablement le choix d’accepter ces « deals de justice » ? / Do companies really have the choice to accept these "deals of justice"?
  • 3. En matière de lutte contre la corruption, les autorités de poursuite se comportent désormais comme des juges puisqu’ils exigent des engagements pour le futur. Quels sont les risques ? / In the fight against corruption, prosecution authorities now behave like judges since they demand commitments for the future. What are the risks ?