France’s President, François Hollande, announced yesterday plans to replace the possibility of criminal sanctions (including imprisonment) for délit d’entrave (breaches of obligations vis-à-vis works councils) with simple fines.

These proposals are to be included in draft law to be presented to the French Council of Ministers in December and debated in the French Parliament in the first trimester of 2015.

The measures are intended to encourage in particular foreign investment – the risk of facing criminal sanctions being one of the factors which is seen to be dissuasive and damaging for France’s reputation with overseas investors.

 In reality the sanction of imprisonment is extremely rarely imposed and currently the fine is €3,750 for individuals (€18,750 for companies). It may be therefore that the new proposals result in a review (and increase) of the level of the fine involved, but would of course remove the (albeit rare) risk of imprisonment for members of the senior management team.