Get information for your importing and exporting activities in three steps

flag France France: Legal Environment

In this page: Business Contract | Intellectual Property | Legal Framework of Business | International Dispute Resolution


Business Contract

General Observation
You must clearly define the seller's obligations and the methods of quality control.
Law Applicable to the Contract
France is a signatory to the Vienna Convention on international contracts. The French legal system is complex. It is not easy for a foreigner to understand French law, so it is recommended that international laws be used or an arbitration system be called upon. International laws are generally accepted in contracts drawn up with French companies.
Advisable Incoterms
It is preferable to choose an incoterm FOB or CIF. Avoid EXW, if you do not want to have to take care of transport in France, which can be complicated.
Language of Domestic Contract
French, English or any other language is possible if both parties agree.
Other Laws Which Can Be Used in Domestic Contracts
If French law is not used, the law of the other contracting party must be applied.

Return to top

Intellectual Property

National Organisations
The National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) (in French) for patents, trademarks, models and industrial designs.
The Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music (SACEM), The National Union of Authors and Composers of music (SNAC), The Society of Stage Authors and Composers (SACD), The Society of Men of Letters (SGDL), The Civil Society of Multimedia Authors (SCAM), High Authority for the Distribution of Works and Protection of Rights on the Internet (HADOPI).
Regional Organisations
For the protection of patents: the European patent office
To control trademarks, designs and models: European Union Intellectual Property Office
International Membership
Member of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization)
Signatory to the Paris Convention For the Protection of Intellectual Property
Membership to the TRIPS agreement - Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

National Regulation and International Agreements

Type of property and law Validity International Agreements Signed

Code of intellectual property
20 years
Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)
Code of intellectual property
10 years renewable indefinitely Trademark Law Treaty
Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks
Code of intellectual property
25 years renewable once  

Code of intellectual property
70 years after the death of its author for inheritance tax
50 years after the first publication for registration fees
Berne convention For the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorized Duplication of Their Phonograms
Rome ConventionFor the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations
WIPO Copyright Treaty
WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty
Industrial Models
Edict n°2001-670 of 25 July 2001 incorporating into Community law the code of intellectual property and the code of the post and telecommunications
25 years renewable once  

Return to top

Legal Framework of Business

Equity of Judgments

Equal Treatment of Nationals and Foreigners
The Language of Justice
Recourse to an Interpreter
Legal Similarities
French law has various sources: the Constitution, laws voted by Parliament, ministerial decrees and orders, international conventions and treaties ratified by France.
Because France belongs to the European Union, national law conforms to the requirements of Community legislation.
There are legal similarities with all the countries whose law has come from Roman law.

The Different Legal Codes

Accounting regulations The 4th Community Directive, incorporated at the national level by the accountancy Act of 30th April, 1983, integrated in the Code of Commerce and completed by the law of 31/12/1989 relative to the simplified regime for small companies.
The 7th Community Directive and the law of 3/01/1985 concerning groups of companies (consolidated accounts).
The doctrine.
Contract and property law Civil Code
Customs law Customs Code in conformity with Community law
Consumer law Code of Consumption
Company law Code of Commerce
Civil Code
General Tax Code
Monetary and Financial Code
Investment law Monetary and Financial Code
Bilateral conventions
Labour law Labour Code

The Collective Agreements (interprofessional agreements conducted at the national level, local agreements containing the rules common to a profession, company agreements, or of an establishment, taking into account the characteristics of the company and its employees).

For practical information on Labour law, click here
Checking National Laws Online
The Constitution in English
Other Useful Resources
Ministry of Justice
Information on French justice
Legifrance, List of Codes
Legal Portal
Country Guides
Country Guide Loyrette Nouel

The Jurisdictions

Disputes with the State, the Administration, local administration concerning their decisions Tribunal Administratif (Administrative Tribunal)
Cours d’Appel Administrative (Administrative Court of Appeal)
Conseil d’Etat (Council of State)
Disputes relative to work contracts, disputes between employers and employees Conseil des Prud’hommes
Commercial disputes Tribunal de Commerce
Cours d’Appel
Cours de Cassation – Section Commerciale (Supreme Court of Appeal - Commercial Section)
Third party liability and insurance, civil status of persons, real estate Tribunal d’Instance (Magistrate's Court)
Tribunal de Grande Instance
Criminal liability (bankruptcy, misappropriation of funds, complicity, etc.) Tribunal de Police (contraventions) (Police Court) (fines)
Tribunal Correctionnel (offenses) (Court of Summary Jurisdiction) (offences)
Cour d’assises (crimes) (Court of Assizes) (crimes)
Cours d’Appel annuaire des juridictions
Cours de Cassation – Section Criminelle (Supreme Court of Appeal - Criminal Section)

Court Officials

Avocat (Lawyer/Barrister)
The lawyer's first role is to inform her/his clients about their rights and obligations. Then she/he is able to represent and defend them in a court of law.
Expert judiciaire (Legal expert)
A judge appoints a duly authorised professional who will review information in order to clarify certain elements of a case.
Greffier (Clerk of the Court)
Throughout the procedure, she/he will prepare a written record of the exchanges, declarations and observations.
Huissier (Bailiff)
She/He is a legal officer responsible for serving legal process and for enforcing court decisions.
Juge (Judge)
She.He is the one who decides if the law has been broken or not, as well as the penalties to be applied.
Procureur de la république (State prosecutor)
She/He is a magistrate who represents the Prosecution in the county court (tribunal de grande instance).

Return to top

International Dispute Resolution

Arbitration is a solution for settling disputes. An arbitrator is called in and has to make the final decision. In addition, the Mediator works with French and foreign firms to resolve intercompany disputes regarding contractual obligations.
Arbitration Law
Articles 1442 and 1443 of the new code of civil procedure
Conformity to International Commercial Arbitration Rules
Party to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
Party to the Geneva Protocol on Arbitration Clauses.
Party to the Geneva Convention of the Execution of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
Appointment of Arbitrators
The court of arbitration is composed of an odd number of arbitrators (usually three). The arbitrators are chosen by the parties, or the President of the Chamber of arbitration.
Arbitration Procedure
Any person or company facing a dispute can resort to arbitration on condition that both parties agree to this procedure. The sentence decided by the arbitrators is not binding. If the person sentenced refuses to carry it out, the other party will have to resort to a state tribunal for an exequatur ruling. The person sentenced can refer to the Court of Appeal to request the sentence be reversed.
Permanent Arbitration Bodies
French Association of Arbitration (AFA) (Sectors Covered: All)
Paris Chamber of Arbitration (Sectors Covered: All)

Return to top

Any Comment About This Content? Report It to Us.


© eexpand, All Rights Reserved.
Latest update: July 2024

Return to top