The Judicial Public Interest Agreement: A Deal with French Justice?

The Judicial Public Interest Agreement (CJIP) is a new transactional device inspired by the United States’ Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA)

Public Interest Judicial Reviews

The Judicial Public Interest Agreement (CJIP) has been introduced into articles 41-1-2 and 180-2 of the French Code of Criminal Procedure. It is a new transactional device inspired by the United States’ Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA). This alternative remedy allows companies prosecuted for breach of probity offenses to reach an agreement with legal authorities in order to halt prosecution by paying a fine and following a compliance program.

Through this mechanism, French legislation targets two major goals: (1) to improve the efficiency of French criminal justice against breach of probity offenses, and (2) to safeguard French economic interests. These goals are sought while reaffirming legal sovereignty in the face of extremely heavy sanctions issued by U.S. authorities against French companies in recent years.

Scope of these Judicial Reviews

Although the judicial review mechanism is innovative, its scope is still quite limited. Sapin II Law does not allow individuals to benefit from this judicial review mechanism. It is limited solely to companies and the following offenses:

    • Active corruption and influence peddling by a French or foreign civil servant.
    • Active or passive corruption and influence peddling by a private agent.
    • Laundering of tax fraud proceeds and similar infractions, not including tax fraud itself.

Implementation of CJIP

As an alternative measure to prosecution, CJIP can be proposed at two stages of the procedure:

    • By a public prosecutor, before the start of the trial, without requiring any recognition of guilt (article 41-1-2 of the Code of Criminal Procedure).
    • By the investigating judge if the public prosecution has already started, whereby the organization investigated then admits the facts and accepts the charges (article 180-2 of the Code of Criminal Procedure).
      The agreement, which must be ratified by a sitting judge during public hearing, outlines one or several obligations under the law:
    • Payment of a fine proportionate to the benefit gained through the breach and that is capped at 30% of the organization’s annual average revenue (calculated from the last three known annual revenue figures).
    • The obligation to enter into a compliance program, monitored by the new French Anti-Corruption Agency (AFA), for up to 3 years. The organization must pay fees incurred (which are capped in the agreement) and must pay damages to any victims identified.

Under the CJIP, a press release must also be published on the French Anti-Corruption Agency website, together with the order approving the CJIP.

Source : Coat Haut de Sigy de Roux

Date de publication : Septembre 2017

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