Much has been written about the recent French Contract Law reform.

The reform of the law of obligations was subject to extensive, long-term discussions before the Government decided to approve it by issuing the Ordinance dated 10 February 2016, as advertised in the Official Journal the following day.

The Ordinance is the result of a public consultation, whereby legal professionals are given the right to participate in its foundation. This ensures that the final text is clear and acceptable from a practical point of view.

I remember the thousands of articles, analyses and discussions preceding the announcement of the final version of the Ordinance, as well as the extensive studies and training sessions organized once the text was finalized.

There was one tiny detail, however, which went unnoticed – the ratification.

As the result of an ordinance, the reform is a governmental act. Therefore, it cannot become law until its ratification by Parliament in the six months following the notification of the Ordinance in the Official Journal. If there is no ratification, the Ordinance simply lapses, simply as if it never existed.

In our case, the deadline expires on 11 August 2016.

No need to check your calendars.

Because on 6 July 2016, the Government presented a draft bill that was sent for review to the Commission des lois constitutionnelles, de la législation et de l'administration générale de la république.

The good news is that the draft bill alone is sufficient to prevent the Ordinance from lapsing.

What is a little bit worrying is that while waiting for the formal ratification bill, the Ordinance will not have the force of law.

This situation entails important consequences with respect to the control of legality of the Ordinance. Before its ratification, the Ordinance is considered as an administrative act and can be referred to the Conseil d'Etat (the Highest Administrative Court in France) for a compliance review of its legality and constitutionality.

This is not an unusual situation. Some ordinances are never formally ratified. But still, the current situation creates a certain degree of legal uncertainty.

The provisions of the Ordinance, which are applicable to all contracts concluded after 1 October 2016, could potentially be changed by the ratification statute.

The draft bill does not provide for any amendment. It aims to ratify the text of the Ordinance as it was presented in February 2016.

This does not mean that the draft bill is immune to change. Potential parliamentary debates could lead to changes to its content and consequently to amendments of the Ordinance.

But such parliamentary debates were expected to take place before the entry into force of the Ordinance. Now, it is clear that this will not be the case. No ratification of the Ordinance is scheduled to take place in the parliamentary sessions prior to 1 October 2016.

Should any parliamentary debates take place and result in amendments of the draft bill and the Ordinance, such amendments will take effect only after the entry into force of the Ordinance.

This is not an ideal situation for companies who have already started to adapt their contracts in view of the current text of the Ordinance.

We can't help but also imagine the worst. What if… what if the Parliament refuses to ratify the Ordinance? This is a more theoretical than practical situation but in that case, the Ordinance will simply lapse as from the date of the refusal to ratify.

Keep that in mind when you amend your contracts – and do not throw away your old edition of the Civil Code. One never knows what may happen…

Much has been written about the recent French Contract Law reform.

The reform of the law of obligations was subject to extensive, long-term discussions before the Government decided to approve it by issuing the Ordinance dated 10 February 2016, as advertised in the Official Journal the following day.

The Ordinance is the result of a public consultation, whereby legal professionals are given the right to participate in its foundation. This ensures that the final text is clear and acceptable from a practical point of view.

I remember the thousands of articles, analyses and discussions preceding the announcement of the final version of the Ordinance, as well as the extensive studies and training sessions organized once the text was finalized.

There was one tiny detail, however, which went unnoticed – the ratification.

As the result of an ordinance, the reform is a governmental act. Therefore, it cannot become law until its ratification by Parliament in the six months following the notification of the Ordinance in the Official Journal. If there is no ratification, the Ordinance simply lapses, simply as if it never existed.

In our case, the deadline expires on 11 August 2016.

No need to check your calendars.

Because on 6 July 2016, the Government presented a draft bill that was sent for review to the Commission des lois constitutionnelles, de la législation et de l'administration générale de la république.

The good news is that the draft bill alone is sufficient to prevent the Ordinance from lapsing.

What is a little bit worrying is that while waiting for the formal ratification bill, the Ordinance will not have the force of law.

This situation entails important consequences with respect to the control of legality of the Ordinance. Before its ratification, the Ordinance is considered as an administrative act and can be referred to the Conseil d'Etat (the Highest Administrative Court in France) for a compliance review of its legality and constitutionality.

This is not an unusual situation. Some ordinances are never formally ratified. But still, the current situation creates a certain degree of legal uncertainty.

The provisions of the Ordinance, which are applicable to all contracts concluded after 1 October 2016, could potentially be changed by the ratification statute.

The draft bill does not provide for any amendment. It aims to ratify the text of the Ordinance as it was presented in February 2016.

This does not mean that the draft bill is immune to change. Potential parliamentary debates could lead to changes to its content and consequently to amendments of the Ordinance.

But such parliamentary debates were expected to take place before the entry into force of the Ordinance. Now, it is clear that this will not be the case. No ratification of the Ordinance is scheduled to take place in the parliamentary sessions prior to 1 October 2016.

Should any parliamentary debates take place and result in amendments of the draft bill and the Ordinance, such amendments will take effect only after the entry into force of the Ordinance.

This is not an ideal situation for companies who have already started to adapt their contracts in view of the current text of the Ordinance.

We can't help but also imagine the worst. What if… what if the Parliament refuses to ratify the Ordinance? This is a more theoretical than practical situation but in that case, the Ordinance will simply lapse as from the date of the refusal to ratify.

Keep that in mind when you amend your contracts – and do not throw away your old edition of the Civil Code. One never knows what may happen…