14 décembre 2023


📝The "Judge-Judged". Articulating Words and Things in the face of Conflicts of Interest, in 🕴️M.-A. Frison-Roche (ed.), 📘Compliance Jurisdictionalisation

par Marie-Anne Frison-Roche

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► Référence complète : M.-A. Frison-Roche, "The "Judge-Judged". Articulating Words and Things in the face of Conflicts of Interest", in M.-A. Frison-Roche (ed.), Compliance Jurisdictionalisation, Journal of Regulation & Compliance (JoRC) et Bruylant, coll. "Compliance & Regulation", 2024, pp. 69-93


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📘consulter une présentation générale de l'ouvrage, Compliance Jurisdictionalisation, dans lequel cet article est publié


► Résumé de l'article  (fait par le Journal of Regulation & Compliance - JoRC) : Since the topic of this article is part of a chapter devoted to the Company established as Prosecutor and Judge of itself by Compliance Law, chapter aiming to use the relevant qualifications, it is appropriate therefore to worry about the adjustment of words and things, of the way in which the relationship between ones and the others evolve, and of the more particular question of knowing if this evolution is radical or not when one speaks of "judge ".

because "judging" is a word that the Law has disputed with other disciplines, but that it has appropriated not so much to confer more powers on those who act in its name, for example that who supervise and punish, but on the contrary to impose limits, since to the one who judges it has put the chains of the procedure under foot, thus making bearable for the other the exercise of such a power. This is why those who want the power to judge would often want to not have the title, because having de jure the title of judge is being subject to the correlated regime, it is to be submitted to procedural correctness.

It is therefore to better limit that the Law sees who judges, for obliging this so-powerful character to the procedure. But the Law also has the power to appoint a judge and to fix the contours of all the characters in the trial. He usually does it with clarity, distinguishing the ones of the others, not confusing them. This art of distinction has constitutional value. Thus, not only the one who judges must be named "judge" but the procedural apparatus which goes with this character and which constitutes a way of doing things and fundamental rights, are not "granted" by kindness or in a second step: it is a block. If you didn't want to have to endure procedural rights, you didn't have to want to be a judge. Admittedly, one could conclude that the procedure would therefore have become "substantial"; by this elevation, it is rather a fashion of saying that the procedure would no longer be a "servant": it is a kind of declaration of love for the procedure, as long as one affirms that at the acts of judging , or investigating, or prosecuting, are "naturally" attached the procedural rights for the one who is likely to be the object of these powers.

Compliance Law, in search of allies to achieve the Monumental Goals for the aims of which it was instituted, will require, or even demand, private companies to go and seek themselves, in particular through investigations. internal or active vigilance on others, for finding facts likely to be reproached to them. Compliance Law will also require that they prosecute those who have committed these acts. Compliance La will again demand that they sanction the acts that people have committed in their name.

This is clearly understood from the point of view of Ex Ante efficiency. The confusion of roles is often very efficient since it is synonymous with the accumulation of powers. For example, it is more efficient that the one who pursues is also the one who instructs and judges, since he knows the case so well... Besides, it is more efficient that he also elaborates the rules, so he knows better than anyone the "spirit" of the texts. This was often emphasized in Regulatory Law. When everything is Information and risk management, that would be necessary ... But all this is not obvious.

For two reasons, one external and the other internal.

Externally, the first reason is that it is not appropriate to "name" a judge who is not. This would be too easy, because it would then be enough to designate anyone, or even to do it oneself to appropriate the regime that goes with it, in particular for obtain a so-called legitimate power for obtaining that others obey even though they are not subordinate or from them they transmit information, even though they would be  competitors: it would then be necessary to remember that only the Law is able to appoint judge ; in this new Compliance era, companies would be judges, prosecutors, investigators!  Maybe, if the Law says it, but if it didn't, it would be necessary to come back to this tautology ... But are we in such a radicalism? Moreover, do judges have "the prerogative" of judgment and the Law has not admitted this power for companies to judge for a long time? As soon as the procedure is there in Ex Ante and the control of the judge in Ex Post?

The second reason, internal to the company, situation on which the article focuses, is that the company investigates itself, judges itself, sanctions itself. However, the legal person expressing its will only through its organs, we underline in practice the difficulties for the same human being to formulate grievances, as he/she is the agent of the legal person, adressed to the natural person that he/she himself/herself is. The two interests of the two are not the same, are often opposed; how the secrets of one can be kept with respect to the other, represented by the same individual? ... It is all the mystery, even the artifice of legal personality that appears and we understand better that Compliance Law no longer wants to use this strange classical notion. Because all the rules of procedure cannot mask that to prosecute oneself does not make more sense than to contract with oneself. This conflict of interest is impossible to resolve because naming the same individual X then naming him/her Y, by declaring open the dispute between them does not make sense.

This dualism, which is impossible to admit when it comes to playing these functions with regard to corporate officers, can come back to life by setting up third parties who will carry secrets and oppositions. For example by the designation of two separate lawyers for the human being agent and the human being representative of the legal person, each lawyer being able to have secrets for each other and to oppose each other. These spaces of reconstitution of the so "natural" oppositions in procedure between the one who judges and the one who is judged can also take the technological form of platforms: where there is no longer anyone, where the process has replaced the procedure, there is no longer any human judgment. We can thus see that the fear of conflicts of interest is so strong that we resign ourselves to saying that only the machine would be "impartial", a derisory conception of impartiality, against which it is advisable to fight.

This then leads to a final question: can the company claim to exercise the jurisdictional power to prosecute and judge and investigate without even claiming to be a prosecutor, an investigating judge, or a court? The company's advantage would be to be able to escape the legal regime that classical Law attaches to its words, mainly the rights of the defense and the rights of action for others, the principle of publicity of justice for everyone, which expresses the link between procedure and democracy . When Facebook said on June 12, 2021 "react" to the decision of May 5, 2021 adopted by what would only be an Oversight Board to decide "as a consequence" of a 2-year suspension of Donald Trump's account, the art of qualifications seem to be used in order to avoid any regime constraint.

But this art of euphemism is very old. Thus the States, when they wanted to increase repression, presented the transformation of the system as a softening of it through the "decriminalization" of Economic Law, transferred from the criminal courts to the independent administrative agencies. The efficiency was greatly increased, since the guarantees of the Criminal Procedure ceased to apply. But 20 years later, Words found their way back to Things: under Criminal Law, slept the "criminal matter", which requires the same "Impartiality". In 1996, a judge once affirmed it and everything was changed. Let us therefore wait for what the Courts will say, since they are the masters of qualifications, as Article 12 of the French Code of Civil Procedure says, as Motulsky wrote it in 1972. Law has time.


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