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France: Product Liability Defence 2016

High-profile health scandals in France in recent years have seen a wave of lawsuits, the most infamous of which is probably the breast implant scandal involving the French company PIP. In its wake, there have been discussions and attempts to introduce class actions. The first breakthrough was achieved in February 2014, when consumer legislation allowing for class actions for consumer and competition law cases was introduced. This year, France is likely to see class action rules expanded to also cover health-related cases and lawyers will be monitoring the developments closely to ensure clients are well prepared. In this chapter, 15 individuals are selected for inclusion.

Hogan Lovells continues to put on a strong performance in our product liability research with three lawyers highly recommended. Head of the French dispute resolution practice Thomas Rouhette is a “renowned litigator” whose “depth of experience in the field of product liability puts clients at ease”. Sylvie Gallage-Alwis is particularly well known for her work in asbestos and cosmetics litigation, and is a “trusted adviser” on regulations, product recalls and responding to regulatory authorities. Head of the Paris life sciences group Cécile Derycke is a “seasoned practitioner” who advises clients in relation to investigations and proceedings pertaining to alleged product liability and their relationships with French health authorities. 

Two lawyers feature in this chapter from Allen & Overy. Head of the litigation department in Paris Denis Chemla is “highly adept” at handling complex product liability litigation. He has a particular focus on aviation-related matters. Erwan Poisson also has deep experience advising on product liability matters in the aviation sector and regularly represents clients before the courts.

At HMN & Partners two individuals stand out in our research. Simon Ndiaye receives “high acclaim” from peers and clients for his “versatile approach to litigation”. He regularly handles complex product liability cases and is “impressive in the courtroom”. Gérard Honig is recommended for his “vast experience” in product liability matters. He has been involved in major cases representing aircraft manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies.

Courrege Foreman is represented by founding partner Simon Foreman. Foreman is a “first-rate” practitioner with a “great reputation” in the field of product liability.

Jones Day’s Laurent Martinet represents a broad array of clients including those in the energy, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, aviation, steel and retail industries. He is praised for his “astute legal mind” and “strategic approach” to litigation.

Vonnick le Guillou is a partner at DLA Piper with a reputation for being “unflappable”. She has a “very active” product liability practice and represents clients in civil or criminal litigation and arbitration.

At Simmons & Simmons, Jacques-Antoine Robert has been involved in high-profile, major product liability cases. His experience includes winning a case before the French Supreme judicial court on behalf of a multinational industrial firm.

Bouckaert Ormen Passemard Sportes – BOPS is represented by Christian Bouckaert, a “revered” practitioner in the French legal market whose litigation practice spans four decades. His product liability work relates to the areas of aviation, pharmaceutical, energy, chemicals, construction and environmental pollution.

Emmanuèle  Lutfalla of SCP Soulie & Coste-Floret has a “commanding presence in the courtroom” and she is considered a “top talent” by peers.

Squire Patton Boggs’ Valérie Ravit has a particular focus on product liability for drug manufacturers, advising many life sciences companies, as well as intervening in pollution cases in France in recent years.

Etienne Gouesse at Viguié Schmidt Peltier Juvigny specialises in life sciences, advising on product liability and related regulatory matters. She is “sensational” and “incredibly hardworking”.

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