PARIS PROSECUTOR TO LAUNCH AN INVESTIGATION INTO VOLKSWAGEN IN RELATION TO EMISSION TESTS SCANDAL

The Prosecutor of Paris has announced that it will launch an investigation into Volkswagen on the basis of suspicions of "aggravated deception."

A consumer representation group, the French National Association of Consumer Protection (CLCV) filed a complaint at the prosecutorial office in Paris on behalf of 50 French owners of Volkswagen vehicles.

The French association, Ecology without Borders, also announced that it would file charges on the basis of "aggravated deception".

In September, Volkswagen admitted that 11 million of its vehicles were fitted with devices that allowed them to cheat emissions tests.

Volkswagen also faces the possibility of investigation or further action (including by the Environment Protection Agency); the USA; Canada; South Korea; India; Australia; Norway; South Africa; New Zealand; and Britain). In addition, its ex-CEO faces investigation by German prosecutors.

PRESIDENT OF UEFA, MICHEL PLATINI, UNDER INVESTIGATION BY FIFA'S INDEPENDENT ETHICS COMMITTEE

Former French footballer and President of UEFA, Michel Platini, who was expected to succeed FIFA's previous president, Sepp Blatter, came under a formal investigation by FIFA's independent ethics committee and was officially banned for 90 days on 8 October 2015 following allegations that he received a "disloyal payment" of £1.35 million.

REVIEWING ADOPTED TEXT N°501 OF LEGISLATIVE PROPOSAL: THE DUTY OF CARE OF PARENT COMPANIES AND SOURCING COMPANIES 

Adopted text n°501 is a legislative proposal bearing "on the duty of care of parent companies and their sourcing companies," which was adopted at its first reading by the French National Assembly on 30 March 2015 . The text will be discussed by the Senate on 21 October 2015.

The proposed law imposes obligations of due diligence (literally in French "devoir de vigilance") on large companies (i.e. a company with more than 5,000 employees within its own entity or within its direct or indirect subsidiaries located in France or a company with more than 10,000 employees within its own entity or within its direct or indirect subsidiaries located in France or abroad). Such companies would be required to establish and effectively implement a "plan for a duty of care" providing for appropriate measures to identify and prevent certain risks (i.e. human rights violations, personal injuries, environmental damage or sanitary risks) resulting from their business operations, as well as those of their direct or indirect subsidiaries, sub-contractors, and long-time relationship suppliers. The plan would also need to prevent active and passive corruption within the company as well as within companies that it controls.

If the law is adopted, the new articles, L. 225-102-4 and L. 225-102-5, will be introduced into the Commercial Code, the latter providing for civil liability in case of non-compliance.

The proposed law has been strongly criticized by French companies pointing out its very broad scope, the inherent difficulties of implementation, and its negative operational and financial impacts. For instance, companies would need to identify "long-time relationship suppliers" (since French case law adopts a broad definition of long-time relationships), investigate their commercial partners and develop a multidisciplinary expertise to cover the wide range of risks, etc. Moreover, companies would necessarily need to increase human and material resources specifically dedicated to these due diligence activities.