This country-specific Q&A provides an overview of Restructuring & Insolvency laws and regulations applicable in France.
- What forms of security can be granted over immovable and movable property? What formalities are required and what is the impact if such formalities are not complied with?
- What practical issues do secured creditors face in enforcing their security (e.g. timing issues, requirement for court involvement)?
- What is the test for insolvency? Is there any obligation on directors or officers of the debtor to open insolvency procedures upon the debtor becoming distressed or insolvent? Are there any consequences for failure to do so?
- What insolvency procedures are available in the jurisdiction? Does management continue to operate the business and/or is the debtor subject to supervision? What roles do the court and other stakeholders play? How long does the process usually take to complete?
- How do creditors and other stakeholders rank on an insolvency of a debtor? Do any stakeholders enjoy particular priority (e.g. employees, pension liabilities)? Could the claims of any class of creditor be subordinated (e.g. equitable subordination)?
- Can a debtor’s pre-insolvency transactions be challenged? If so, by whom, when and on what grounds? What is the effect of a successful challenge and how are the rights of third parties impacted?
- What form of stay or moratorium applies in insolvency proceedings against the continuation of legal proceedings or the enforcement of creditors’ claims? Does that stay or moratorium have extraterritorial effect? In what circumstances may creditors benefit from any exceptions to such stay or moratorium?
- What restructuring and rescue procedures are available in the jurisdiction, what are the entry requirements and how is a restructuring plan approved and implemented? Does management continue to operate the business and/or is the debtor subject to supervision? What roles do the court and other stakeholders play?
- Can a debtor in restructuring proceedings obtain new financing and are any special priorities afforded to such financing (if available)?
- Can a restructuring proceeding release claims against non-debtor parties (e.g. guarantees granted by parent entities, claims against directors of the debtor), and, if so, in what circumstances?
- Is it common for creditor committees to be formed in restructuring proceedings and what powers or responsibilities do they have? Are they permitted to retain advisers and, if so, how are they funded?
- How are existing contracts treated in restructuring and insolvency processes? Are the parties obliged to continue to perform their obligations? Will termination, retention of title and set-off provisions in these contracts remain enforceable? Is there any ability for either party to disclaim the contract?
- What conditions apply to the sale of assets / the entire business in a restructuring or insolvency process? Does the purchaser acquire the assets “free and clear” of claims and liabilities? Can security be released without creditor consent? Is credit bidding permitted? Are pre-packaged sales possible?
- What duties and liabilities should directors and officers be mindful of when managing a distressed debtor? What are the consequences of breach of duty? Is there any scope for other parties (e.g. director, partner, shareholder, lender) to incur liability for the debts of an insolvent debtor?
- Do restructuring or insolvency proceedings have the effect of releasing directors and other stakeholders from liability for previous actions and decisions?
- Will a local court recognise foreign restructuring or insolvency proceedings over a local debtor? What is the process and test for achieving such recognition? Does recognition depend on the COMI of the debtor and/or the governing law of the debt to be compromised? Has the UNCITRAL Model Law on Cross Border Insolvency or the UNCITRAL Model Law on Recognition and Enforcement of Insolvency-Related Judgments been adopted or is it under consideration in your country?
- For EU countries only: Have there been any challenges to the recognition of English proceedings in your jurisdiction following the Brexit implementation date? If yes, please provide details.
- Can debtors incorporated elsewhere enter into restructuring or insolvency proceedings in the jurisdiction? What are the eligibility requirements? Are there any restrictions?
- How are groups of companies treated on the restructuring or insolvency of one of more members of that group? Is there scope for cooperation between office holders?
- Is your country considering adoption of the UNCITRAL Model Law on Enterprise Group Insolvency?
- Did your country make any changes to its restructuring or insolvency laws in response to the Covid-19 pandemic? If so, what changes were made, what was/is their effect and were/are they temporary or permanent?
- Are there any proposed or upcoming changes to the restructuring / insolvency regime in your country?
- Is it a debtor or creditor friendly jurisdiction?
- Do sociopolitical factors give additional influence to certain stakeholders in restructurings or insolvencies in the jurisdiction (e.g. pressure around employees or pensions)? What role does the state play in relation to a distressed business (e.g. availability of state support)?
- What are the greatest barriers to efficient and effective restructurings and insolvencies in the jurisdiction? Are there any proposals for reform to counter any such barriers?
Ophélie Clain (White & Case, Associate, Paris) contributed to the development of this publication.
The article is reproduced with permission from The Legal 500 Country Comparative Guides. This article was first published in The Legal 500. For further information please visit https://www.legal500.com/guides/chapter/france-restructuring-insolvency/.
This publication is provided for your convenience and does not constitute legal advice. This publication is protected by copyright.