In the framework of the world-famous case between the Republic of Congo and Commisimpex, the Supreme Court recently established a new rule to be followed in order to proceed to a seizure when an immunity from jurisdiction applies. The decision demonstrates the importance of applying the same rules of law in relation to immunity from jurisdiction or execution – to such an extent that the court justified the retroactive application of the Sapin II Law.
A recent Supreme Court decision confirms that the estoppel principle is recognised under French law as a general principle and is now a procedural tool in the hands of litigators. However, the decision also revives the debate about the principle's true effectiveness before the French courts.
Under French law, proceedings may be terminated on several procedural grounds. One of them is the abatement of a suit, which results in the termination of the proceedings without considering the merits of the case. In two decisions issued on December 16 2016, the Supreme Court specified the subtle conditions applicable to the enforcement of such a drastic procedural penalty.
As with many other national laws, French law recognises parties' right to gather evidence at the pre-trial stage by way of a discovery procedure (ie, judges will require opponents to disclose files and documents under certain circumstances). However, the confidentiality of targeted files and documents can be a major obstacle to the success of such claims. The Supreme Court recently held that confidentiality provided by US legal privilege is unlikely to frustrate a discovery action undertaken in France.
The Supreme Court recently answered the question of whether a party that is summoned by the Ministry of Economy before a French court over a competition law infringement is entitled to contend, by way of defence, that the court in question has no jurisdiction over the claim. The judgment provides a clear rule of law: competition claims between private parties remain freely arbitrated, but actions by the ministry cannot be submitted, in any case, to arbitration.