By Order No. 2020-560 of May 13, 2020, the Government decided not to further postpone the time limits that had been suspended or interrupted since March 12, 2020, despite the extension of the state of health emergency. Consistently, in a press release of May 18, 2020, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) announced that it would progressively re-instate the statutory time limits that had been interrupted or suspended in light of the state of health emergency. All of these time limits will resume on June 24, 2020 at the latest.[1]

Antitrust proceedings. Leniency proceedings and the two-month time limit for companies to respond to a statement of objections or a report of the General Rapporteur, which had been suspended since March 17, 2020, have resumed running as of May 12, 2020.[2]

Merger control. The merger control review statutory time limits, which had been suspended as of March 12, 2020, will resume running on June 24, 2020.[3] While the FCA had advised companies to defer merger notifications at the beginning of the pandemic,[4] it continued to receive notifications during this period and reviewed cases that had been notified prior to the state of health emergency. Between March 18 and May 18, the FCA cleared no less than 25 transactions, with an average review period of 22 working days.[5] In its May 18, 2020 press release, the FCA indicated that it would continue to use its best efforts to issue decisions without waiting for the statutory time limits to expire.

Commitments, injunctions and interim measures. Time limits relating to commitments, injunctions, and interim measures, which had been suspended as of March 12, 2020,[6] will also resume running on June 24, 2020. In its May 18, 2020 press release, the FCA noted, however, that it may impose commitments, injunctions or interim measures before June 24, 2020, provided that such measures are “justified in light of the interests for which [the FCA] is responsible.”[7] The FCA has already issued several decisions requiring implementation in tight time limits during the pandemic, including (i) interim measures imposed on Google in the matter of neighboring rights[8] and (ii) commitments undertook by La Poste[9] regarding its loyalty rebates practices. The FCA has also issued decisions prescribing time limits for implementing commitments in five merger cases.[10]

Other acts, decisions, and appeals. The time limits for other acts and decisions from the FCA, which have been interrupted since March 12, 2020, will start over—from scratch—on June 24, 2020.[11] Time limits to appeal FCA infringement decisions will also start over on June 24, 2020.[12] Consequently, all appeals against FCA infringement decisions for which the deadline would have expired between March 12 and June 23, 2020 (inclusive) will have to be filed with the Paris Court of Appeals by August 24, 2020 at the latest.

[1]              FCA press release, “Gradual lifting of the state of health emergency in France: re-instating statutory time limits”, May 18, 2020, available at: https://www.

[2]              See Order No. 2020-423 of April 14, 2020.

[3]              See Order No. 2020-560 of May 13, 2020.

[4]              See FCA press release “Adaptation of merger control procedures due to Coronavirus COVID-19”, March 18, 2020: “Companies are invited to postpone any plan for economic merger that is not urgent.”

[5]              For instance, the FCA cleared the acquisition of Sinoué by ORPEA and that of Bombardier assets by Spirit.Decision 20-DCC-63 of April 30, 2020, Sinoué/Orpea; Decision 20-DCC-62 of May 13, 2020, Spirit Aerosystems Inc./Bombardier.

[6]              See Cleary Gottlieb, French Competition Newsletter, “The French Competition Authority suspends procedural time limits due to Covid-19”, March 2020. On March 27, 2020, in application of Article 8 of Order No. 2020-306 of March 25, 2020, the FCA suspended the time limits for companies to implement commitments, injunctions, and interim measures.

[7]              FCA press release, op. cit.

[8]              Decision 20-MC-01 of April 9, 2020.

[9]              Decision 20-D-06 of April 2, 2020.

[10]             Decision 19-DCC-141 of July 24, 2019, Reworld Media/Mondadori France; Decision 19-DCC-147 of July 24, 2019, Triskalia/D’Aucy; Decision 19-DCC-221 of November 27, 2019, Frans Bonhomme/DMTP; Decision 19-DCC-244 of December 11, 2019, William Demant/Audilab; and Decision 20-DCC-28 of February 28, 2020, Elsan/Hexagone Santé Méditerranée/SCI Bonnefon-Carnot.

[11]             See Order No. 2020-560 of May 13, 2020.

[12]             See Order No. 2020-560 of May 13, 2020. Despite the extension of the state of public health emergency, Order No. 2020-560 of May 13, 2020 modified Article 1 of the Order of March 26, 2020 so that the interruption of time limits for appeal would not themselves be postponed.