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I.  New French Transparency Law

France recently adopted a mandatory registration scheme for lobbyists.  This registry is created by Law No. 2016-1691 of December 9, 2016, Regarding Transparency, the Fight against Corruption, and Modernization of Economic Life,[1] colloquially known as the Second Sapin Law, after the bill’s primary sponsor, Finance Minister Michel Sapin.[2]

The Second Sapin Law establishes an electronic registry to “ensure the information of citizens on the relationships between representatives of [special] interests and public authorities.”[3]  This registry, which will be publicly accessible, will aim to show the identity of individuals and organization regularly engaged in lobbying activity.[4]  The law requires public or private organizations engaged an industrial or commercial activity, and chambers of commerce, chambers of industry, and chambers of trades and craft (“chambres de métiers et de l’artisanat”) to register if the principal or regular activity of at least one executive, employee, or member is to influence the decision of a government body, especially the content of a law or regulatory act, through communications with legislators, cabinet members, legislative or cabinet staff and advisors, or other government officials.[5]  Individuals who, though not employees of the organizations mentioned above, nevertheless exercise lobbying activities on their behalf, will also have to register, and will have to disclose the identity of the people or organizations whose interests they are representing.[6]

Registrants will be required to disclose their identity (or, in the case of corporations or other organizations, the identities of their leadership, and of any employee or member in charge of lobbying activities); the scope of their lobbying activities; how many people they employ for lobbying activities; how much money was spent on lobbying activities during the preceding year; and any professional organization, union, or nongovernmental organization that has interests related to the interests represented by the registrant.[7]  Failure to disclose the required information can potentially lead to criminal charges and is punishable by up to one year of jail and a fine of €15,000 (about US$16,190).[8]

The law generally excepts certain parties from the lobbying registration requirements, including elected officials acting within their official capacity, political parties acting within their constitutional roles, labor unions, and religious organizations.[9]

The provisions regarding the lobbyist registry will come into force on July 1, 2017.[10]  The registry will be kept and managed by the High Authority for Transparency in Public Life.[11]

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II. Current Law

The Second Sapin Law was adopted to rectify what was seen as very inadequate regulation of lobbying activities.[12]  The current rules, which remain in place until the registry is implemented on July 1, 2017, do not provide for any mandatory lobbyist registration scheme.  The two chambers of Parliament, the Senate and the National Assembly, each have a voluntary registry.[13]  The main incentive for registering with the parliamentary registries appears to be that it provides the registrant with a special badge giving him/her access to parts of the Senate and/or the National Assembly that he/she would otherwise not be allowed into.[14]  Few lobbyists appear to be registered under the current rules.[15]

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Prepared by Nicolas Boring
Foreign Law Specialist
March 2017


[2] Loi 2016-1691 du 9 décembre 2016 relative à la transparence, à la lutte contre la corruption et à la modernisation de la vie économique [Law 2016-1691 of Dec. 9, 2016 Regarding Transparency, the Fight Against Corruption, and Modernization of Economic Life], Vie-Publique.fr (French government website) (Dec. 12, 2016), http://www.vie-publique.fr/actualite/panorama/texte-discussion/projet-loi-relatif-transparence-lutte-contre-corruption-modernisation-vie-economique.html (archived at https://perma.cc/D8HA-NMLD); Maria Knapp, Will the Sapin II Anti-Corruption Law Shepherd France Into a New Era of Transparency ?, Forbes (Dec. 14, 2016), https://www.forbes.com/sites/riskmap/2016/12/14/will-the-sapin-ii-anti-corruption-law-shepherd-france-into-a-new-era-of-transparency/#7e97531248f0, archived at https://perma.cc/E4ZW-QF4W.

[3] Law 2016-1691 of Dec. 9, 2016, art. 25 (amending Loi n° 2013-907 du 11 octobre 2013 relative à la transparence de la vie publique [Law No. 2013-907 of Oct. 11, 2013 Regarding Transparency in Public Life], https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=JORFTEXT000028056315&dateTexte=20170327, archived athttps://perma.cc/57NR-KEV7.).

[4] Law 2016-1691 of Dec. 9, 2016, art. 25.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] The website of the Haute Autorité pour la transparence de la vie publique [High Authority for Transparency in Public Life] may be accessed at http://www.hatvp.fr/la-haute-autorite/#r-1, archived at https://perma.cc/V3J5-JUDF.

[12] Etude d’impact, Projet de loi relatif à la transparence, à la lutte contre la corruption et à la modernisation de la vie économique [Impact Study, Bill Regarding Transparency, the Fight Against Corruption, and the Modernization of Economic Life], NOR : FCPM1605542L/Bleue-1, 44 (Mar. 30, 2016), https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/content/ download/9989/117721/version/1/file/ei_transparence_corruption_modernisation_vie_economique_cm_30.03.2016.pdf, archived athttps://perma.cc/C39W-DZ48.

[13] Règlement du Sénat et Instruction générale du Bureau [Rules of the Senate and General Instructions of the Bureau] (Mar. 2, 2017), https://www.senat.fr/reglement/reglement_mono.html,archived at https://perma.cc/E52A-KGJC, Art. XXII bis; Règlement  de l’Assemblée nationale [Rules of the National Assembly] art. 80-5 (Jan. 2015), http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/connaissance/reglement_2015_01.pdf, archived at https://perma.cc/57RT-ZEZL.

[14] Etude d’impact, supra note 12, at 46–48.

[15] Id. at 48.

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Last Updated: 04/05/2017