July 10, 2024


🌐follow Marie-Anne Frison-Roche on LinkedIn

🌐subscribe to the Newsletter MAFR. Regulation, Compliance, Law


► Full Reference: M.-A. Frison-Roche, "Devoir de vigilance : progresser" (Duty of vigilance: the way forward), in A. Bres & C. Maubernard (dir.), Le devoir de vigilance des entreprises : l'âge de la maturité ? (The duty of vigilance: the age of maturity?), Bruylant, coll. "Droit & Economie", to be published.


📝read the article (in French) 


🚧 read the bilingual Working Pape on which this article has been made, with more developments, technical references and hypertext links. 


► English summary of this article: In 2017 in France the so-called Vigilance law expressed great ambition. So did the draft directive. But in 2024 the European institutions moderated this ambition by refusing to increase either the type of companies subject and the constraints to which the duty of vigilance is associated. The directive has essentially halted what was for some the "march of progress". Does the ambition no longer exist? Does the future lie in an extension of the philosophy of the duty of vigilance, i.e. companies that should always be more concerned about others? This would undoubtedly be reaching the "age of maturity", where others see the age of madness, because it would be a contradiction in terms to ask a company to be concerned about anything other than its own development.

It is therefore appropriate to consider this very hypothesis of an "age of maturity" as being an ambition maintained despite a European directive which, in its adopted version, is weakened and while the oppositions are intact (I). First of all, it must be admitted that the notion of "maturity" most often conceals a value judgment when applied to a legal concept (I.A.) and that this is blatantly obvious with regard to the duty of vigilance, which is considered by some and by nature by some as a good and by others as an evil (I.B).

In order not to remain in what appears to be trench warfare, we must not get too bogged down in the reference French legislation of 2017 and what appears to be a European stutter in 2024, arguing so loudly that we can hear them reasoning in print, by paying attention to less visible and now more promising avenues of progress (II). In fact, the duty of vigilance can progress simply by the passage of time (II.A), by a better definition of the vocabulary (II.B), by the consolidation of the principles of Responsibility and Dialogue (II.C), by the uniqueness of the jurisdictional route (II.D).

This last perspective of the progress that will be made possible in France by the uniqueness of the judicial route leads to a final avenue of progress. By their very nature, laws are jolts, all the more violent for being disputed. At the moment, if we want to make progress, these two other sources - the contract and the judge - must be favoured (III). The European directive is rightly concerned with access to the courts and takes a measured view of the effectiveness of contracts as a means of making the duty of vigilance effective, with the courts having to ensure that the contract does not destroy the spirit of the system. This is what the law already organises about the relationship between the contract, the judge and the duty of compliance (III.A). What is new in Europe in 2024 is the introduction of a Supervisor (III.B). Here again, vigilance is the "cutting edge" of Compliance Law, as it is an extension of Regulatory Law. 

The result is that, through interpretation and the handling of principles, and to formulate a more general conclusion, it is the judge who holds and will hold the balance of the duty of vigilance.


May 8, 2019


Référence complète : Frison-Roche, M.-A., Interview in Guerre larvée autour de la GPA, entretien avec Agnès Laurent in le dossier de L'Express, n° 3540, mai 2019, pp. 42-43.


Résumé par le Magazine :

Légaliser la gestation pour autrui n'est pas d'actualité en France. Mais partisans et opposants ferraillent pour faire pencher l'opinion publique de leur côté. Deux positions irréconciliables, où tous les coups sont permis.

Lire l'entretien.