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Important commercial and corporate law updates | France

The following content relates to advice on updates in relation to commercial,corporate and data protection law via our firm network connection, Bird & Bird, for France:

20 April 2020

Data Protection

14 April 2020

Corporate

A Decree no 2020-418 has been published by the Government on 10 April 2020, supplementing the Order n°2020-321 of 25 March 2020 allowing general meetings to be held without the physical presence of their members due to the health crisis caused by COVID-19.

Data Protection

On the 9th April 2020, the CNIL published a set of recommendations to raise awareness of employers on the importance of ensuring the protection and confidentiality of personal data when using videoconference tools. The guidelines include a list of requirements to be complied with in order to ensure security and confidentiality of personal data.

https://www.cnil.fr/fr/covid-19-les-conseils-de-la-cnil-pour-utiliser-les-outils-de-visioconference

6 April 2020

Corporate

Decree No. 2020-395 of 3 April 2020 determines the conditions and procedures for the remote establishment of notarial deeds using electronic media during the period of health emergency.

Commercial / Regulatory

The CGT (French Trade Union representing roughly 30% of French workers) is calling for a strike this Friday to protest against the maintenance of the delivery platforms which, according to the CGT, endangers the workers.

2 April 2020

Commercial / Regulatory

In order to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the French government has issued a decree announcing the closure of restaurants and pubs and other establishments open to public that are non essential to the life of the Nation until April 15, 2020 (this does not include grocery stores). However, all establishments in this category are also allowed to maintain their take-away and delivery activities.

The government has enacted a health recommendation guide that requires meals-on-wheels delivery operators to ensure that delivery is contactless, in order to provide maximum protection for meal preparers, deliverers and customers. The guide states that delivery must be contactless:

  • A meal recovery area must be set up by the restaurant, separate from the kitchen, to ensure the recovery of the meal without contact between the person(s) responsible for preparing the meal and the person responsible for its delivery ;
  • The deliveryman deposits the open bag and the restaurant staff places the meal directly into the bag ;
  • When the meal is delivered, the delivery person warns the customer of his arrival (by knocking or ringing the bell);
  • The deliveryman leaves immediately or moves a minimum distance of 2 meters from the door, before the customer opens the door.

The guidelines state that food delivery platforms shall remind restaurants, delivery personnel, and customers  to take the necessary precautions: barrier gestures (washing your hands very regularly, coughing or sneezing into your elbow or into a handkerchief, etc.). Although the guidelines are unclear on who must provide the following necessary precautions to deliverymen, it seems that platforms have to remind the following to deliverymen: (i) while waiting in front of a restaurant, delivery personnel must ensures that the safety distance of 1 meter between them is respected, (ii) the customer must be warned upon arrival and the deliveryman must leave immediately or moves a minimum distance of 2 meters from the door after dropping off the meal and the delivery equipment must be cleaned regularly, (iii) persons with symptoms of COVID 19 must not work, (iv) delivery equipment must be regularly cleaned using disinfectant wipes or a cleaning product corresponding to the NF or EN 14476 standard.

Specific guidelines are also intended to restaurants.

The French government has announced confinement measures for a period of at least 15 days to contain the COVID-19 epidemic caused by the coronavirus. This confinement has been extended until 15 April 2020 and could be further extended at this date.

The state of public health emergency has been declared through a Law dated 23 Mach 2020 for an extendable period of two months. Such state of emergency results in providing specific powers to the Prime Minister, in particular (i) measures restricting freedom of movement, freedom of enterprise and freedom of assembly; (ii) measures to requisition all goods and services necessary to end the health crisis (iii) temporary price control measures.

Under the terms of the Order of March 25th, 2020, the deadlines applicable to the Administration (in particular the DGCCRF in charge of consumer protection) that have expired or expire between March 12th and the expiry of a period of one month from the date of cessation of the state of health emergency are suspended. Thus, the deadlines for administrative measures of investigation and investigation are automatically extended.

Under the terms of Ordinance of March 25, 2020 on the extension of the deadlines during the period of public health emergency and the adaptation of procedures during that period, the actual deadlines for notably any act, appeal, legal action (including payment claims) are suspended until one month after the ending of the state of public health emergency (currently scheduled for 24 May 2020).

Corporate

French government has taken temporary measures enabling to delay the approval of the yearly financial statements of French companies by three months. In addition, certain measures enable board meetings closing financial statements not to be held physically in certain types of companies. Physical presence to general assembly meetings has also been adapted temporarily.

Data Protection

  • On the 6 March the French Data Protection Authority (CNIL) published an information notice about data protection and coronavirus. The CNIL recalls in which circumstances, outside a context of medical care, employers may collect data concerning employees/agents or visitors in order to determine whether people have symptoms of the coronavirus, or data relating to movements and events that may fall within the private sphere. In particular, the  CNIL indicates that employers must refrain from collecting information relating to the search of possible symptoms in a systematic and generalised manner, or via individual requests and questionnaires concerning employees and their relatives and cannot take measures likely to infringe the right to employees' privacy. The CNIL also regulates the limited list of personal data which an employer is allowed to record in case it becomes aware that an employee was infected by COVID-19, and considers that the fact that the identity of the employee must remain confidential.  However, under French Labour Law employers are responsible for health and security of their employees/agents and must implement occupational risk prevention actions, information and training actions, and finally set up suitable organization and means.
  • The CNIL published on 1st April 2020 a set of good practices concerning teleworking and the need to enhance security measures to ensure the security of information systems and personal data. Source: https://www.cnil.fr/fr/les-conseils-de-la-cnil-pour-mettre-en-place-du-teletravail.
  • The CNIL has decided to delay the publication of its final recommendation on cookies which as a result delay the date of entry into force of the revised cookie rules (expected to start 6 month after the publication of the final recommendation on cookies).

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