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► Full reference: M.A. Frison-Roche, Thinking and using Vigilance through its Compliance Monumental Goals, Working Paper, March 2023.
🎤 This Working Paper has been done as basis for the introduction of the colloquia La société vigilante ("Vigilant Company") at the Aix-Marseille University on March 24, 2023 (conference given in French)
📝It is also the basis of the article that introduces a special issue on La société vigilante
► Summary of the Working Paper: The concept of "Vigilance" is difficult to define. Probably because even as it is becoming a standard, it has just entered the legal systems. And what a splash it is! To understand it, it must not be isolated. Neither in the only French law attracting all the attention, all the fears, all the hopes, the so-called Loi Vigilance ("Vigilance Law"), nor in the only technical mechanisms that make Vigilance a reality.
Vigilance is itself only a part of a deeper movement, of which it is the advanced point, allowing us to anticipate the evolution of the whole: Compliance Law.
In this light and for not getting lost in it, because the stakes are so high that one quickly loses the measure of things, with each party lashing out at the others, so Vigilance, the key element of Compliance, requires above all alliances, that we can first examine the entry of Vigilance into the legal system and then understand it through the Monumental Goals which give the measure of it, i.e. both the scope and the limit, each one having to act within the margins that are theirs, States, companies, stakeholders, and judges.
A Will for tomorrow can then emerge today, carried by Europe.
🔓read the Working Paper⤵️
vII. THE ENTRY OF VIGILANCE INTO THE FRENCH LEGAL SYSTEM
Vigilance is an astonishing legal notion since there was so little talk of it before in 2017 an French ecologist deputy took up this word and built on it a bill which perhaps, even if voted, would not have attracted everyone's attention if it had not mobilised so many people against it, if the French Constitutional Council, seized to put the top down, had not said in its decision of 13 March 2017📎
It is true that the European directive, whose every comma is disputed, does not incorporate this striking vocabulary, using an expression: corporate sustainability due diligence, which claims to originate from considerations of competitive equality and refers firstly to the idea of "sustainability", is articulated secondly to other European texts or texts in preparation on sustainability and is deployed more clearly thirdly in Company Law, in particular extra-financial information and sustainability reports. But the link is constantly made by the academic doctrine between this French law of 2017, this soon to be adopted directive and what will later be its transposition into the French legal order📎
However, while the French 2016 law, from which this 2017 law takes up many of the techniques, in particular the drawing up of a plan for the detection and prevention of behaviours that need to be combated, or even eradicated in the future, definitively retains the name of its author - the so-called Sapin 2 Law - this French law of 2017 quickly lost the name of the deputy to be called the Vigilance Law.
Maybe because a law is not an academic dissertation and one deduces too quickly that its required normativity would presuppose the absence of definitions, the Legislator moving directly to operational provisions, which the judge of the Judicial Court of Paris later complained about almost aloud in the famous judgement on 28 February 2023, Les amis de la terre et autres c/ Total Energie📎
However, mastering Law requires definitions. What would be like an intuition in the face of cases allowing the "recognition" of the imperative of vigilance" is not enough. Moreover, it can exacerbate conflicts because everyone "feels" vigilance according to his or her culture, position, and interest, e.g. companies and NGOs. Conversely, abstract definitions, formulated by a third party, legislator, or judge, reduce these dangers upstream. But the 2017 law went straight to the modalities. To master this notion, one will therefore tend to look beyond this law, which made the notion famous before it was mastered or even known.
Since the benefit of the academic or institutional doctrine is undoubtedly to increase order in the functioning of the legal system📎
Others rightly pointed out that if the 2017 French legislator had referred to ordinary civil tort law, it was because the latter therefore applied and that from this truism, one could deduce that even outside the particular situation covered by the so-called Vigilance Law, i.e. a value chain, a master company and a concern for human rights and the environment, the Tort Law of liability still had enough force, if not more than ever, to generate an obligation, and not just a "duty"📎
It is true that in the legal system the tem "vigilance" is found more in Civil Law than in Commercial Law, as Economic Law still finds it difficult to fit into this traditional "civil/commercial" distinction📎
This sheds light on the saga that led French legal system, which addressed the technical question of the designation of the judge to deal with "vigilance law", a response provided first by case law📎
This also sheds light on the relationship of protection that is established between the 'parent' or 'principal' company and those who work for it, which generates a 'duty' on the former. When reading this vocabulary, how can we not think of Pierre Legendre's work on the parental function of States (La fonction parentale des Etats)📎
Without going into further detail, this shows the extent to which vigilance, which consists in watching another, in constantly observing as if from above📎
Why want such a system? To impose such an ambition?
To achieve Monumental Goals.
II.UNDERSTANDING THE LEGAL CONCEPT OF VIGILANCE THROUGH THE COMPLIANCE MONUMENTAL GOALS
Since the Legislator has said so little, it is appropriate to take Vigilance out of this isolation making it incomprehensible and to understand it as a compliance tool, which, like all the others and articulated with them, aiming to achieve Monumental Goals📎
Indeed, in this circle, Vigilance Monumental Goals are only one piece of Compliance Monumental Goals. Compliance Law is a new branch of Law that is defined teleologically, based on these goals. These can be called "monumental" in that they express a great ambition for the future📎
Often, it is about asserting the ambition that the future will not be what it would become if nothing were done here and now: 'Negative Monumental Goals' therefore📎
Positive Monumental Goals" express an even greater ambition: to make progress so that the future is systemically improved through immediate and continuous action. Effective equality between human beings is one example. They underlie a new conception of enterprise.
Vigilance Monumental Goals fit perfectly into those of Compliance Law, of which they are only one part. Indeed, the concern for the environment and human rights constitute a case of application of these Negative Monumental Goals, by detecting infringements and risks, organising to build a system where, by force, climatic balances will be built, and human beings respected📎
Since the technical whole can be reduced to a systemic concern for others because the Law relies on the globalisation of economic structures📎
In this systemic conception of Vigilance, part of Compliance Law whose object is no longer the past, and only takes on the present insofar as present action has a bearing on the future, the criteria for evaluating legal concepts are: effectiveness, efficiency and effectiveness.
Dans cette conception systémique de la vigilance, pièce d'un Droit de la Compliance dont l'objet n'est plus le passé, et ne prend même le présent qu'en tant que l'action présente a prise sur l'avenir, les critères d'évaluation des notions juridiques sont : effectiveness, efficacy, efficiency.
In this respect, those responsible for ensuring Compliance Law ensure first that the instruments (plans, remedies, commitments, training, etc.) are effective, i.e. that they take place, but also that they are efficace: that they have an effect in line with the Monumental Goal sought, this link between implementation and goal being expressed by the legal principle of Proportionality📎
Therefore, are only subjects of law that are obliged to comply and, for example, to be vigilant, those entities that are "in a position" to do something regarding these Monumental Goals.
These "Crucial Operators"📎
III. ARTICULATING VIGILANCE TECHNIQUES TO ACHIEVE MONUMENTAL GOALS
This teleological conception of Vigilance implies that, based on the normativity of the goals for which the Legislator, endowed with the power to watch over the general interest, has established the instruments, the capacities of those who have the means to do so should be mobilised. The company is thus at the heart of Vigilance, which it deploys in the value chains but also within the company to protect and promote climate protection or human rights.
In the mobilisation of the capacities required by Compliance, the company is chosen not so much because it would be already at fault, according to a sort of "portrait of a born criminal" that would be drawn up of it and its employees, contrary to the principle of freedom, in order to move towards a society of all-supervision, but because it has the de facto and de jure means to ensure such a mission of general interest.
As the French 2019 Pacte law emphasises, the company can express a raison d'être and, because it is in a position to do so, exploit its geographical position, its technology, its human resources, and human beings to help protect human beings. To do this, whether by force or by choice (CSR, raison d'être, Benefit Corporation), the company must first and foremost act and make others act, to contribute to a common action.
More technically, the company must show that it wields its levers, particularly legal ones, to obtain effects, by crossing the tools of others, particularly through Contract Law. In this respect, the duty of care takes he form of recourse to third parties, through "compliance contracts", and is given concrete form in specific stipulations, "compliance clauses"📎
Therefore, the more powerful the company is, the more it can carry its duty for the future of the systems and the human beings who will live in them📎
In this respect, Compliance Law differs from Competition Law📎
The main thing is to measure the margins of each.
Indeed, Compliance is often presented as obeying. The company should comply in all respects, with all regulations, with all standards, and with all regulators, who thus even outside the regulated sectors📎
It is essential to distinguish between 'consent', that by which the subject bends, and 'will', that by which he expresses his autonomy📎
This creates room for action for everyone. Let's start with companies.
Thus the room for action companies is firstly regarding Monumental Goals, which it would be contrary to international public order for them to restrict, but which they can on the one hand strengthen by adhering to them in their own unilateral commitments, and on the other hand increase them by intensifying them, for example in the calendar or in the territory.
This expression of Will, and not of consent, is deployed in the many "tools of vigilance"📎
Stakeholders also have room to express their will. The legislator invites them to participate in the development of technical vigilance tools, while Corporate Law, in which vigilance enters via due diligence, implies a dialogue and that questions are answered.
By default, the judge is the one before whom wide margins are open for the expression of his will. "By default', because constrained by the weakness of the legislative art, constrained by the obligation in which he has always been, in Civil law systems, for instance under by Article 4 of the French Civil Code to respond to the requests made to him by the subjects of law, in Common Law systems more freely. He will therefore respond.
The specificity of Compliance, a branch of Law of action that seizes the future, will lead him to adapt his way of conducting the judicial procedure📎
Finally, let us look at Europe's room for action. Europe is a political project for which the economy has been the most immediately available material. Regulatory and Compliance Law is in the process of finding its place in it, particularly in a political will to regulate the digital space📎
Europe is built on the Rule of Law and the protection of human beings. The ashes of the Second War have made this project permanently urgent. To achieve this human project, Compliance Law is active, in that it puts the human being at the centre📎
This right measure of Vigilance therefore implies a shared duty, between States, crucial companies, and stakeholders.
The 'right mesure' makes it possible to limit powers, first because allying oneself implies that one takes the other into consideration and the probationary system of Compliance will oblige each one to keep track of this consideration. This probationary obligation is intended to be applied to everyone, in a system where everyone justifies himself, in the democratic model of which Habermas has just reminded us of the urgency, particularly in a digital media society📎
This 'right measure' is secondly to be found in the company itself. In the same way that the company must never claim to save the world or to issue universal standards that would form our fundamental norms of behaviour📎
No, it is the Chinese conception which, taking companies as the armed arm of a central policy, charges companies and everyone, bent by a consent whose link with free will has been broken, no longer makes the difference between the Society, whose future is mapped out by the central power, and the companies which become entirely "vigilant", a new nature in a society where secrecy no longer has a place.
Keeping things in perspective is the biggest challenge in the emerging Vigilance Law.
Let us count on the judge, who always listens to both, the contradiction being inseparable from him📎
🏛️Decision of the Conseil constitutionnel (French Constitutional Council), 23 March 2017, Loi relative au devoir de vigilance des sociétés mères et entreprises donneuses d'ordre: "13. Compte tenu de la généralité des termes qu'il a employés, du caractère large et indéterminé de la mention des « droits humains » et des « libertés fondamentales » et du périmètre des sociétés, entreprises et activités entrant dans le champ du plan de vigilance qu'il instituait, le législateur ne pouvait, sans méconnaître les exigences découlant de l'article 8 de la Déclaration de 1789 et en dépit de l'objectif d'intérêt général poursuivi par la loi déférée, retenir que peut être soumise au paiement d'une amende d'un montant pouvant atteindre dix millions d'euros la société qui aurait commis un manquement défini en des termes aussi insuffisamment clairs et précis", which we can translate as : "13. Given the generality of the terms he used, the broad and indeterminate nature of the reference to "human rights" and "fundamental freedoms" and the scope of the companies, businesses and activities falling within the scope of the due diligence plan it instituted, the legislator could not, without disregarding the requirements arising from article 8 of the Declaration of 1789 and despite the general interest objective pursued by the law referred to, retain that a company that has committed a breach defined in such insufficiently clear and precise terms may be subject to the payment of a fine of up to ten million euros"; "27. En renvoyant aux articles 1240 et 1241 du code civil dans le nouvel article L. 225-102-5 du code de commerce, le législateur a seulement entendu rappeler que la responsabilité de la société à raison des manquements aux obligations fixées par le plan de vigilance est engagée dans les conditions du droit commun français, c'est-à-dire si un lien de causalité direct est établi entre ces manquements et le dommage. Les dispositions contestées n'instaurent donc pas un régime de responsabilité du fait d'autrui, ainsi que cela ressort, au demeurant, des travaux parlementaires. Par suite, et en tout état de cause, ces dispositions ne méconnaissent pas le principe de responsabilité", which we can translate as : "27. By referring to articles 1240 and 1241 of the French Civil Code in the new article L. 225-102-5 of the French Commercial Code, the legislator intended only to point out that the company's liability for breaches of the obligations laid down in the due diligence plan is incurred under the conditions of French ordinary law, i.e. if a direct causal link is established between these breaches and the damage. The contested provisions do not therefore introduce a system of vicarious liability, as is clear from the parliamentary proceedings. Consequently, and in any event, these provisions do not infringe the principle of liability."
S. for instance 🕴️A. Danis-Fatôme, 📝The proposal for a European Directive on the duty of vigilance: brief views on civil liability, 2022 ; 🕴️G. Lhuillier, 📝The proposal for a European directive on the duty of care of companies with regard to sustainability, 2022.
🏛️Tribunal judiciaire de Paris (Judicial Court of Paris), Ordonnance de référé, 28 February 2023, Les amis de la terre et autres c/ Total Energie, n° RG 22/53942 : "La loi pose un principe de devoir de vigilance à certaines entreprises qui sont rattachées territorialement à la France, ce principe se concrétisant par l’obligation faite à ces sociétés d’adopter un plan de vigilance comportant 5 catégories de mesures.
Le contenu de ces mesures de vigilance demeure général, étant observé que le décret prévu par les dispositions susvisées pouvant apporter des précisions sur le contenu de ces mesures de vigilance n’est pas paru à ce jour.
La loi ne vise directement aucun principe directeur, ni aucune autre norme internationale préétablie, ni ne comporte de nomenclature ou de classification des devoirs de vigilance s’imposant aux entreprises concernées.
Le droit positif ne prévoit aucun référentiel, aucune typologie précise des droits concernés ou des mesures au sens des dispositions susvisées.
Il n’est pas davantage prévu de modus operandi, de schéma directeur, d’indicateurs de suivi, d’instruments de mesure devant présider à l’élaboration, à la mise en œuvre et à l’évaluation par l’entreprise des mesures générales de vigilance pesant sur elle du chef des dispositions susvisées.
Aucun organisme de contrôle indépendant, ou moniteur, ou d’indicateurs de performance ne sont davantage prévus par la loi pour évaluer ex ante le plan de vigilance adopté par l’entreprise ou pour vérifier la réalité de l’exécution de ce plan ex post, le seul contrôle prévu étant dévolu au juge qui pour opérer ce contrôle devra s’appuyer sur une notion standard « le caractère raisonnable » des mesures de vigilances contenues dans le plan de vigilance de l’entreprise, notion imprécise, floue et souple.
Cette législation assigne ainsi des buts monumentaux de protection des droits humains et de l’environnement à certaines catégories d’entreprise précisant à minima les moyens qui doivent être mis en œuvre pour les atteindre."
Doctrine has great pleasure in reflecting on the role of doctrine. Here, we will simply refer to 🕴️Luhmann, for instance 📝L'unité du système juridique, in 📗Le système juridique, Archives de philosophie du droit, 1986.
S. for example 🕴️A. Bruneau, 📝The company judges itself: the Compliance function in the bank, in 🕴️M.-A. Frison-Roche (ed.), 📘Compliance jurisdictionalisation, 2023.
On the power of the ordinary Liability Law, s. in the same way 🕴️A. Danis-Fatôme et 🕴️G. Viney, 📝La responsabilité civile dans la loi relative au devoir de vigilance des sociétés mères et des entreprises donneuses d'ordre, 2017 ; particularly with regard to the European directive, 🕴️A. Danis-Fatôme, 📝The proposal for a European Directive on the duty of vigilance: brief view on civil liability, 2022.
S. in the same way 🕴️M. Fabre-Magnan, ... in 🕴️Thomas Clay (dir.), 📗Mélanges en l'honneur du Professeur Loïc Cadiet, 2023.
This article is part of the author's worried, even critical, reflections: .....
🕴️J.-B. Racine (dir.), 📕Le droit économique au XXIe siècle. Notions et enjeux, 2020.
Loi n° 2021-1729 du 22 décembre 2021 pour la confiance dans l'institution judiciaire, article 56: "La sous-section 2 de la section 1 du chapitre Ier du titre Ier du livre II du code de l'organisation judiciaire est complétée par un article L. 211-21 ainsi rédigé : « Art. L. 211-21.-Le tribunal judiciaire de Paris connaît des actions relatives au devoir de vigilance fondées sur les articles L. 225-102-4 et L. 225-102-5 du code de commerce. »".
V. 🕴️M.-A. Frison-Roche and 🕴️J.-Ch. Roda (dir.), 🧮La contractualisation de l'Obligation de Compliance : clause après clause, 20 October 2023, in 🏗️Cycle of symposiums 2023 on the Compliance Obligation.
🕴️P. Legendre, 📗Les enfants du texte : Étude sur la fonction parentale des États, 1993.
This externality of method creates considerable methodological challenges for an essential technique: internal investigations.
V. 🕴️S. Scemla et 🕴️D. Paillot, 📝The supervisory authorities face difficulties to apprehend the rights of the defence in Compliance matters, in 🕴️M.-A. Frison-Roche (dir.), 📘Compliance Jurisdictionalisation, 2023 ; 🕴️M.-A. Frison-Roche and 🕴️M. Boissavy (ed.), 📕Compliance et droits de la défense, 2023.
🕴️M.-A. Frison-Roche, 📝Building by Law the Unicity of Compliance Tools from the Definition of Compliance Law by its "Monumental Goals", in 🕴️M.-A. Frison-Roche (ed.), 📘Compliance Tools, 2021.
🕴️M.-A. Frison-Roche, 📝Compliance Monumental Goals, Beating Heart of Compliance Law, in 🕴️M.-A. Frison-Roche (ed.), 📘Compliance Monumental Goals, 2023.
🕴️Association Capitant, 📗La Mondialisation, 2017.
In the book 🕴️M.-A. Frison-Roche (ed.), 📘Compliance Monumental Goals, 2023, see in particular 🕴️L. Rapp, 📝Compliance, Proportionality and Normativity and 🕴️M.-A. Frison-Roche, 📝Definition of Proportionality and Definition of Compliance Law.
🏛️ECJ, 9 November 1983, case 322/81, Michelin v. Commission, pt. 57: "a dominant position is not in itself a recrimination but simply means that, irrespective of the reasons for which it has such a dominant position, the undertaking concerned has a special responsibility not to allow its conduct to impair genuine undistorted competition on the common market".
🕴️M.-A. Frison-Roche, 📝L'usage des puissances privées par le droit de la compliance pour servir les droits de l’homme (The use of private forces by Compliance Law to serve Human Rights), 2023.
For an Economic Law analysis, 🕴️M.-A. Frison-Roche, 📝Assessment of Whistleblowing and Vigilance Obligation with regard to International Competitiveness, in🕴️M.-A. Frison-Roche (ed.), 📘Compliance Monumental Goals, 2023.
S. in general, 🕴️M.-A. Frison-Roche, 📝Remarques sur la distinction entre la volonté et le consentement en droit des contrats (Remarks on the distinction between will and consent in Contract Law), 1995.
On the probatory system, almost in the making, 🕴️M.-A. Frison-Roche, 📝The judge, the compliance obligation, and the company. The Compliance probatory system, in 🕴️M.-A. Frison-Roche (ed.), 📘Compliance Jurisdictionalisation, 2023.
🕴️M.-A. Frison-Roche, 📝Compliance et Médiation (Compliance and Mediation), 2023.
🕴️M.-A. Frison-Roche, 📓L'apport du Droit de la Compliance dans la Gouvernance d'Internet (The contribution of Compliance Law to the Internet Governance), Report asked by the French Government, 2019.
🕴️R.-O. Maistre, 📝What monumental goals for the Regulator in a rapidly changing audiovisual and digital landscape?, in🕴️M.-A. Frison-Roche (ed.), 📘Compliance Monumental Goals, 2023.
On this aspect, 🕴️M.-A. Frison-Roche, 📝The Principle of Active Systemic Proximity, a corollary of the renewal of the Principle of Sovereignty by Compliance Law, in🕴️M.-A. Frison-Roche (ed.), 📘Compliance Monumental Goals, 2023.
🕴️M.-A. Frison-Roche (dir.), 🧮La Vigilance, pointe avancée des obligations de Compliance (Vigilance, the cutting edge of Compliance obligations), 2023, in 🏗️Cycle of symposiums 2023 on the Compliance Obligation.
🕴️J. Habermas, 📗Espace public et démocratie délibérative : un tournant, 2023 ; this must be linked with the report of the Conseil d'État (French Council of State), 📓Les réseaux sociaux. Enjeu et opportunités pour la puissance publique, 2022.
In the expression of this fear, 🕴️G. Teubner, 📗Fragments constitutionnels. Le constitutionnalisme sociétal à l'ère de la globalisation, translation and preface of Isabelle Aubert, 2016 ; 🕴️G. Teubner, 📝L'auto-constitutionnalisation des entreprises transnationales ? Sur les rapports entres les codes de conduite "privés" et "publics" des entreprises, in 🕴️A. Supiot (ed.), 📗L'entreprise dans un monde sans frontières. Perspectives économiques et juridiques, 2015.
🕴️M.-A. Frison-Roche, 📕Généralités sur le principe du contradictoire. Etude de droit processuel (Generalities about the Principle of contradictory. Study of Procedural Law), thesis Paris II, 1988, published in 2014.