Analysis
7 January 2021

Plea Bargaining and Deferred Prosecution Agreements in France

The French mechanisms for deferred prosecution agreements and plea bargaining, for the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC).

 

To avoid long and publicly exposed trial, legal persons and their executives may resort to negotiated justice mechanisms in France such as deferred prosecution agreement (“Convention Judiciaire d’Intérêt Public”, or “CJIP”), or plea bargaining (“Comparution sur reconnaissance préalable de culpabilité”, or “CRPC”). French criminal law does not however have a very long-standing tradition of negotiated justice and the CJIP introduced by the Sapin II law in 2016 renewed the use of the CRPC. The following may be useful to know for in-house counsel advising businesses that operate in France (or working in French businesses that operate in other countries):

Legal entities may enter into CJIP, i.e., settlement with prosecutors for white collar offences, subject to court approval. A CJIP involves inter alia (1) payment of a fine; (2) and implementation of a compliance program. A CJIP also circumvents the drawbacks of a criminal conviction for legal entities such including the exclusion from public procurements.

The opportunity to offer a CJIP and the amount of the fines are assessed by the prosecutor on three main criteria: (1) the legal entity’s criminal background; (2) the entity’s voluntary and prompt disclosure of facts to the authorities; (3) and cooperation with authorities, highlighted by the entity’s early initiative to conduct internal investigation.

A CJIP does not preclude criminal proceedings against the legal entity’s executive managers and admission of facts made in the CJIP will necessarily influence the defence of individuals involved. In that respect, in conjunction with a CJIP, Public prosecutors may offer or agree to a plea bargain (“CRPC”) with the executives subject to their prior admission of guilt. The CRPC entails reduced sentences, yet it has the same effect as a criminal conviction.

When companies face allegations of white-collar crimes, in-house counsels should therefore act promptly and determine whether French Law is applicable and whether the conditions to resort to negotiated justice mechanisms are met. They could also pre-emptively initiate internal investigations and enhance their compliance program to demonstrate cooperation with authorities. To this end, in-house counsels may seek independent attorneys to build a proactive and adequate strategy, to conduct independent internal investigation, negotiate with prosecutors and later foster improvements of the entity’s compliance program.

Related content

Event
2 February 2023
ICC Mexico – Sapin II and France’s efforts to tackle corruption
Stéphane de Navacelle is invited by the ICC of México to talk about the Sapin II law and France's efforts...
Press review
Press review - Week of 23 january 2023
27 January 2023
Press review – Week of 23 January 2023
In this week’s press review, you will find two cases which were dismissed, one concerning the defective management of the...
Press review
Week of 16 January 2023
20 January 2023
Press review – Week of 16 January 2023
This week press review includes the latest news on criminal law, business criminal law and criminal procedure. Thus, this review...
Press review
Press review - Week of 9 january 2023
13 January 2023
Press review – Week of 9 January 2023
This week in the press review, a dismissal of the Chlordecone case in the French West Indies and a $17.2...
Press review
Week of 2 January 2023
6 January 2023
Press review – Week of 2 January 2023
This week in the press review, two Members of the European Parliament have been subjected to immunity waiver proceedings in...
Press review
Press review - Week of 26 december 2022
30 December 2022
Press review – Week of 26 December 2022
In this week's news, there are several important events in criminal law. First, the criminal Charles Sobhraj, otherwise known as...
Press review
Press review - Week of 19 december 2022
23 December 2022
Press review – Week of 19 December 2022
This week's press review presents the outcome of an investigation by the Paris Bar Council against several lawyers for ethical...
Press review
Press review - Week of 12 december 2022
16 December 2022
Press review – Week of 12 December 2022
In this press review, from a judicial point of view, there are several important events: The Court de Cassation ruled...
Press review
Week 5 December 2022
9 December 2022
Press review – Week of 5 December 2022
In this press review, you will have the opportunity to discover two court decisions. The first one, is issued by...
News
ABA
6 December 2022
Launch of the international guide to corporate internal invgestigations
NAVACELLE co-hosted the launch of the ABA guide in Dubai along with Al Tamimi & Company, Bär & Karrer and...
Press review
2 December 2022
Press review – Week of 28 November 2022
In this press review, you will discover several important judicial events: the French Supreme Court clarified the status of victim...
Press review
Week of 21 November 2022
25 November 2022
Press review – Week of 21 November 2022
In this press review, you will discover the opening of a preliminary investigation by the French National Financial Prosecutor’s Office...