In December 2016, the “Sapin II” law introduced comprehensive mandatory whistleblowing schemes (amongst other things) for certain private and public sector organizations in France. This law became effective in 2018 and was amended in 2022 to transpose the “EU Whistleblower Directive.” The legal changes came into effect on 1 September 2022, and the implementation decree of 3 October 2022 took effect on 5 October 2022.
On 21 March 2022, France enacted a law (the Law) “aiming to improve the protection of whistleblowers” by making numerous amendments to the Sapin II law, as well as to the labor code, the public service code, the criminal code and other laws.
Consistent with the previous version of the Sapin II law, the new Law is not restricted to breaches of EU law, as provided for in the EU Whistleblower Directive, but extends to breaches of French law or a “threat or prejudice to the general interest.” The Sapin II law also separately provides for reporting on breaches to the company’s anti-corruption code of conduct.
The Law does not apply in cases where French or EU law establishes specific reporting regulations (notably as set out under Part II of the Annex to the EU Whistleblower Directive, covering EU law in the fields of financial services, AML-CFT, transport and environment).
Moreover, transposing the EU Directive, the new Law expands the types of information falling outside its scope to include information protected by the secrecy of judicial deliberations and judicial investigations, in addition to information protected by national defense secrecy, medical secrecy, and lawyers’ professional secrecy.