COMPETITION • FRENCH LAW • PROCEDURE
Article L. 450-3 of the Commercial Code as amended by the Macron Law of 6 August 2015, authorizes investigators to request the disclosure and obtain or take copies of books, invoices and any other professional documents “of any type, whoever holds them, in order to facilitate the accomplishment of their task”. This request must not be of a non-specific and general nature. After requiring that investigators at least know that requested documents exist and are able to identify them, the courts now appear content with ensuring that the documents relate to the subject of the investigation. The handing over of the documents must in principle be spontaneous.
Article L. 450-3 of the Commercial Code specifies that copies can be taken or obtained, “by all means and on all media”, which reinforces the authority of the investigators recognized by the case law. The persons in question may refuse to disclose documents covered by professional secrecy. Since the Hamon Law of 17 March 2014, Article L. 450-3 allows agents to access, for the control of operations using information technology, software and stored data and the decrypted version of information necessary to facilitate the accomplishment of their duties. Transcriptions may be requested by any appropriate means of processing, of documents directly usable for the needs of the control. The Macron Law has strengthened the powers of agents who can now require that all necessary means be put at their disposal in order to “carry out their inspections”.