The French banking sector is experiencing turbulent times. In August 2015, the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive was ratified into French law, which requires banks to show that they have the appropriate resources to maintain activities that are essential to financial stability. Forthcoming legislation from the French government is also expected to make changes to the pecking order of bank creditors in times of financial difficulty, improving depositor protection and generally reinforce the stability of the banking system overall. Amid legislative reform, shares for the bank Société Générale dropped by 12 per cent in a day, prompting fears that France could be the trigger of another recession in the Eurozone. Against this backdrop our research highlights 16 individuals below.
The trademark industry in France is set to undergo significant changes in the next few months. In December 2015 the European Trademark reform was approved by the European Parliament, which commentators consider will bring “some of the most important reforms to EU trade mark laws since the introduction of the Community Trade Mark in 1996”. The new rules will strengthen both the national and European trademark systems by creating increased protection for rights holders and preserving freedom of expression. Both national and EU trademark registration procedures will be reformed, including the introduction of a new tailored fee structure, facilitating cheaper and easier trademark registration and protection. Against the backdrop of such changes our research highlights 34 practitioners and 15 trademark attorneys.
In the last few years European M&A deal activity has been robust, with France being among the most active on the continent. However, the situation has deteriorated with a 41 per cent decline in transactions involving a French company during the first nine months of 2015, compared to the same period in 2014. Current economic unpredictability and concerns over the price of the euro are having a negative impact on confidence in the region. Against this backdrop we identify 19 M&A practitioners and eight due diligence accountants.
In a similar vein to other European countries, the French government is struggling to reign in its enormous social security deficit, which includes health insurance. As a result, the country is becoming increasingly austere in its pricing and reimbursement policy, including price cuts, delisting and generic prescription incentives. France has also become one of the first countries in the world to introduce automatic substitution of biosimilars over their typically more expensive reference products. Ultimately, this places greater pressure on life sciences companies to become more cost-effective and optimise the value of their products.
The investigations practice area is an internationally growing phenomenon as government regulators and criminal prosecutors increasingly scrutinise the activities of corporations and their personnel. This attention has made the legal knowledge and the methodological familiarity behind regulatory and criminal investigations a prized asset among many of the world’s leading corporations and the law firms that advise them. The close technical relationship with white-collar crime defence means that many law firms combine the practice areas, with lawyers typically hailing from a commercial litigation or business crime defence background. With a new financial prosecutor and moves towards extending plea bargaining to major white-collar crimes, internal investigations may soon take off in France. We list 18 practitioners in this regard.
The tightening budgets of public bodies have made the financing of public procurement and other forms of public contracts a prime concern. Accordingly there is greater demand for more innovative and complex contractual structures. Meanwhile, the greater competition among suppliers and contractors for these contracts has increased the likelihood of tenders being challenged in the administrative courts. We have listed 19 standout specialists in this area.
Franchise networks continue to grow in France, with the business model now contributing around €60 billion to the domestic economy through over 1,500 systems and 60,000 franchisees. France is the largest franchising market in Europe and many international brands see it as the entry point for the European continent. However, appreciating cultural, economic and legal differences to the Anglo-Saxon markets is vitally important to the success of brand expansion in France, which cannot be accomplished without advice from well-versed local counsel. We list six leaders in this regard.
A key focus over the past few years for French TMT lawyers has been the increase in work relating to data protection work. The issue goes hand-in-hand with that of cybersecurity, another area that owes its increase in prominence to mounting concerns over the technology rights and risks, and the subsequent changes in regulation. This year, 70 leading lawyers are recognised for their impressive work in the field.
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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.