Leniency: Challenges, benefits and constraints

Antitrust Procedure Workshop organized by Concurrences in partnership with Reed Smith.


Catherine Prieto (Professor at the Sorbonne Law School)

Public order/immunity dialogue

The stakes of this dialectic are well known: the extreme harmfulness of cartels and the necessary diffusion of a culture of competition justify the immunity granted to offenders if they contribute to the detection and termination of secret cartels. The benefits that can be expected from leniency are also known. For the prosecuting authority, leniency helps to ease the tension between the high standard of proof of collusion imposed on it and the concealment of the facts constituting the cartel, which makes it difficult to provide such proof. For the company, leniency allows for a partial or even total reduction of the fine, while at the same time providing legal certainty through a return to legality.

Legal Framework

Under French law, these programmes are governed by Article l. 464-2 of the French Commercial Code, the application of which is specified in a 2009 procedural notice. At the EU level, the legal framework for leniency is the result of a reconciliation between the principle of procedural autonomy and the principle of effectiveness. I It is based on various media: communications, model programmes of the European Competition Network and case law.

Photos © Léo-Paul Ridet.

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  • French Competition Authority (Paris)
  • University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne
  • DS Avocats (Paris)