Blocking Statute

Law No. 68-678 of 26 July 1968, as amended by Law No. 80-538, governs the transmission of certain documents and information held by French entities to foreign authorities and in the context of foreign administrative or legal proceedings.

Requests for information or documents are becoming more and more frequent, either in application of foreign extraterritorial laws, or in the context of civil or commercial proceedings before foreign courts. By way of example, requests for information in the context of international investigations from foreign authorities (US Department of Justice (DOJ) or UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) are increasing as well as discovery orders.

In this context, French law No. 68-678 of 26 July 1968, modified by Law No. 80-538 known as the “loi de blocage”, aims to provide a framework for discovery procedures and requests for evidence from foreign authorities, by obliging French entities or entities having interests in France to transmit such documents/information only via mechanisms provided in international treaties/agreements. The French Blocking Statute provides that if those entities transmit such documents/information without using treaties/agreements, they are committing an offence and a criminal penalty.

Your challenges

Preserving the confidentiality of your documents in cross-border criminal investigations.

Protecting your know-how and data

The extraterritorial application of foreign laws and the collection of evidence by foreign prosecuting authorities, outside the framework of criminal, civil or commercial mutual assistance procedures, creates a risk of disclosure of your know-how and data abroad but also a risk of criminal prosecution if such documents or information fall within the scope of law No. 68-678.

Dealing with a request for evidence from foreign prosecution authorities

Foreign authorities do not hesitate to act outside of mutual legal assistance mechanisms to obtain evidence in prosecutions against French companies.

Handling cooperation with foreign authorities

In the context of international cooperation, the company should be able to assess the impact of the blocking statutes and should care to preserve its data of economic value relating to business secrets, know-how or technologies.

Our way

Tailor-made support for requests for evidence from foreign authorities.

More than fifteen years of experience in cross-border criminal investigations

Our expertise is recognised in cross-border criminal investigations. On many occasions, we have assisted French companies in protecting their know-how and data against evidence collection by foreign authorities. We also advise our clients on discovery orders issued by U.S. and U.K. courts in civil and commercial proceedings in close collaboration with a local law firm.

Expertise on blocking mechanisms under French and European law

We have a particularly detailed knowledge of the so-called blocking statutes, at both national and European levels.

Support for your applications to foreign prosecution authorities

Our multilingual team, accustomed to foreign legal practices, can assist you in defending your interests. We have extensive experience (and regularly advise clients) before US prosecuting authorities such as the US Department of Justice or the Securities and Exchange Commission in close collaboration with a local law firm.

Clients' stories

How do you react when a foreign court orders the production of certain documents?

Foreign courts, such as English or American courts, can order French entities or entities having interests in France, party to civil proceedings to produce documents.
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