On July 6, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) published its annual report for the year 2021.[1] In particular, the report highlights (i) the key figures of the FCA activity in 2021, (ii) the reinforced investigative powers of the FCA and (iii) the roadmap for 2022-2023.

On July 1, 2022, the Conseil d’Etat (the French administrative supreme court) ruled[1] that it had no jurisdiction to annul a decision of the French Competition Authority (the “FCA”) rejecting commitments offered by the group Sony (“Sony”) to end competition proceedings and referring the case back for further investigation.[2]

On June 16, 2022, the Paris Court of Appeals (the “Court”) ruled that “decisions to protect the confidentiality of business secrets taken during the course of the investigation, which have not been challenged pursuant to Article R. 463-15 of the French Commercial Code, continue to bind the College when adopting and drafting the decision on the merits, otherwise such decisions would be deprived of any effectiveness” (the “Ruling”).[1]

On June 9, 2022 the Paris Court of Appeals partially reversed an FCA prohibition decision following an appeal by wine importer Distillerie Dillon SAS (“Distillerie Dillon”) and its parent companies Bardinet SAS and Compagnie Financière Européenne de Prises de Participation SA (together, the “Appellants”). The FCA decision, issued on October 29, 2020, sanctioned the Appellants as well as several wine producers and importers, including Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte (“CNF”), for participating in an exclusive importation system for champagne in several overseas French territories.

On April 27, 2022, the European Commission (the “Commission”) approved a State aid scheme of €700 million of the French State “to support research, development and innovation projects by companies of all sizes and active across all sectors”[1] (the “French Scheme” or the “Scheme”). The French authorities estimate the number of beneficiaries of the scheme to range between 11 and 50 companies.[2] The scheme will be in place until December 31, 2023.

On April 20, 2022, the Cour de cassation, the French Supreme Court, upheld the judgment of the First President of the Paris Court of Appeal validating dawn raids carried out by the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) in the wine and spirits sector in 2019. The Cour de cassation held that the scope of the French legal professional privilege (“LPP”) (secret professionnel) is not limited to attorney-client correspondence relating to conduct in the scope of the proceedings at stake but to any and all proceedings, even unrelated to competition law, where any outside lawyer is representing his or her client’s rights of defense.[1]

On April 12, 2022, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) fined Compagnie Financière Européenne de Prises de Participation (“COFEPP”) 7 million euros for two distinct but related infringements, namely failing to notify a merger transaction (failure to notify) and implementing said transaction before merger control approval had been obtained (so-called “gun-jumping”).

On March 25, 2022, the French Conseil constitutionnel[1] held that the provisions of Article L.470-2, paragraph VII of the French Commercial Code, which provide for the cumulative enforcement of penalties imposed on the same person for multiple breaches regarding restrictive trade practices, are in compliance with the French Constitution.