iStock_000051591518_Medium (1)Click here to read this article in French.

It is now possible for creditors and co-contractors of insolvent companies to take certain steps in French insolvency proceedings and make certain statements “online”.

Published in the middle of August, the 2015-1009 decree of 18 August 2015 could easily have gone unnoticed, if it hadn’t been expected for several months by us “technophile” practitioners.

Indeed, in a world with more and more insolvent companies, this legislation is going to start a small revolution in France by setting up a web portal offering secure communication services and authorising everyone to send to and receive communications from agents appointed during French insolvency proceedings.

Certain information can already be exchanged electronically, via data rooms, but this new law allows us to skip an important stage in the process, in order to modernise insolvency proceedings.

This reform follows the 2011-331 law of 28 March 2011, which is about the modernisation of the legal profession and certain regulated professions. This law, in articles L814-2 and L814-13 of the Commercial Code, predicted that after 1 January 2014, the CNAJMJ (the French regulatory authority for judicial administrators, receivers and judicial liquidators) would put in place a web portal offering secure communication services in line with the activities of the relevant professions.

In order to assess the effects of this change, we had to wait until August 2015, as that is when the implementation order was published.

It is now possible to use the “online” services, via the official website to file the following:

  • the debt declarations mentioned at article L622-24 of the Commercial Code
  • the debt disputes mentioned at article L622-27 of the Commercial Code
  • the inspectors’ requests for information as mentioned at article R621-19 of the Commercial Code
  • the list of debts (drawn up by the debtor) for each creditor as part of accelerated safeguarding procedures and mentioned at article L628-7 of the Commercial Code
  • the proof of debt mentioned at articles L622-13 and L641-11-1 of the Commercial Code
  • the formal notice sent to the administrator or liquidator pursuing outstanding contracts, as per articles L622-13 and L641-11-1 of the Commercial Code
  • the administrator’s or liquidator’s response to this formal notice during the period mentioned at articles L622-13 and L641-11-1 of the Commercial Code
  • the claims and requests for restitution mentioned at articles L 624-17 and L641-14-1 of the Commercial Code.

The use of the web portal is free for the creditor, but the decree is careful to specify that the electronic communication of proceedings must be done by recorded delivery sent via the web portal, which will cost the same as sending it via the post office (it may be better to also send a registered letter at the beginning of the proceedings in addition to the online correspondence).

Personal information and information recorded via the web portal will be controlled by the CNIL (the French Data Protection Authority). Indeed when the creditor opts to use the electronic method (using paper is still possible) he must create an account on the web portal by entering his personal details.

The website is only in French at this stage, but should be translated into other languages very soon.

This evolution is in line with the large electronic communication movement led by the government and allows easier communication with legal entities involved in the proceedings.

We will certainly return to this subject in another article, given that the web portal has been designed to be used more widely in future, until it becomes undoubtedly the favoured means of communication for legal entities involved in legal proceedings and perhaps even by the tribunal (via network interconnections), as is the case in some other foreign countries.

We are witnessing the emergence of version “2.0” of French legal insolvency proceedings, however it is important to note that this is only one small step towards it.