Under French law, each company has to pay an annual contribution to French Social Security in respect of work accidents and occupational illnesses, known as the AT/MP contribution ("Cotisation Accidents du Travail et Maladies Professionnelles"). The Occupation Health and Pension Fund ("CARSAT - Caisse d'Assurance Retraite et de la Santé du Travail") which calculates the AT/MP contribution, relies on a Ministerial Order dated 16 October 1995 to determine whether a particular illness should be taken into account when calculating a company's AT/MP rate. Each company may later challenge its AT/MP rate by filing a claim before the National Court of Incapacity ("CNITAAT - Cour Nationale de l'Incapacité et de la Tarification de l'Assurance des Accidents du Travail").
On 12 July 2013, the French Supreme Court ("Cour de Cassation") handed down a judgment regarding one of the most important Articles of the Ministerial Order dated 16 October 1995 (Article D. 242-6-5 of the French Social Security Code). Indeed, according to this Article, in circumstances where an illness has been developed by an employee before such illness was included on the official list of occupational illnesses (tables 30 and 30 B for asbestos-related illnesses), the financial consequences of this illness must not be taken into account when calculating the AT/MP rate of the employer.
Companies have raised questions regarding the interpretation of this Article in the case of asbestos-related cases of lung cancer. Lung cancers were firstly included on table 30 of the French Social Security Code by a Decree dated 19 June 1985. However, it was only later included on table 30 B of the French Social Security Code by a Decree dated 22 May 1996. According to this second Decree, an employee must have been exposed to asbestos for 10 years in order for its lung cancer to be automatically recognized as being an occupational illness. Therefore, a lot of companies argued that the second Decree dated 1996 should be the only one to be taken into account when considering the date of the inclusion of lung cancers on the list of the occupational illnesses for the purposes of calculating AT/MP rates.
In its judgment dated 12 July 2013, the French Supreme Court dismissed this argument. Indeed, according to this Court, the amendment of the table and of its requirements is merely a formal modification. Therefore, the Court ruled that the Decree dated 19 June 1985 must be the only one to be taken into account by the National Court of Incapacity, and it is from this date that asbestos-related cases of lung cancer will be included in calculations of a company's AT/MP contribution.