Fiches Belges
Measure Implementation
Measure possibility

Legal Framework
Applicable Framework

Competent authority
Request/decision
Execute/recognise measure

Accepted Languages
Languages

Execution Deadline
Deadlines

Legal info
Special requirements
Other information

Fiches Belges: France

Sequestration of assets (501)

1. MEASURE IMPLEMENTATION

France

Is this measure possible in your Member State under International Judicial Cooperation?

The seizure under criminal law, for the purpose of using as evidence or for the purpose of subsequent confiscation, of objects, documents, all movable or immovable property, whatever their nature, is possible under mutual legal assistance, including in relation to a person who owns the property in good faith. The assets must constitute the direct or indirect product of the offence (the product/proceeds), or they must have been used or intended to be used to commit the offence (the instrument and object of the offence), and the seizure can also be carried out in relation to any assets of which the value corresponds to the proceeds of the crime.

2. LEGAL FRAMEWORK

France

International legal framework applicable for this measure in your Member State

• Framework Decision 2003/577/JHA of 22 July 2003 on the execution in the European Union of orders freezing property or evidence; • The European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters of 20 April 1959 (and its two additional protocols of 17 March 1978 and 8 November 2001; • The Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union of 29 May 2000; • The Convention of the Council of Europe, known as the Strasbourg Convention, of 8 November 1990 on the laundering, search, seizure and confiscation of the proceeds of crime; • The United Nations Convention against illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, known as the Vienna Convention, of 20 December 1988 • The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, known as the Palermo Convention, of 15 November 2000 • The United Nations Convention against Corruption, known as the Merida Convention of 31 October 2003 • In the absence of a convention the provisions of the French Code of Criminal Procedure (article 694-10) shall apply in the alternative.

3. COMPETENT AUTHORITY TO:

France

* receive the request/decision for judicial cooperation

Authority competent to receive/authorise the measure: For all requests, the investigating judge, on the request or following the advice of the public prosecutor of the place where either the assets or the evidence is located. If those details are not known, or if the place is not known, it will be the investigating judge of the regional court of Paris.

* execute/recognise the measure (if other than the receiving authority)

Authority competent to receive the certificate and to recognise or refuse to recognise it: As above.

4. ACCEPTED LANGUAGES

France

Accepted languages for the request/decision

French. Only the certificate needs to be translated into French and not the decision of seizure on the basis of the Framework Decision of 22 July 2003.

5. EXECUTION DEADLINE

France

Deadlines for the execution of the request/decision (where applicable)

The investigating judge must make a ruling immediately and, if possible, within 24 hours of receiving the certificate. It is, however, possible to defer the exection of the seizure decision, for example when there is a risk that this decision could prejudice an ongoing criminal investigation or when one of the assets is already the object of a seizure decision in non-criminal proceedings in France. In that case the investigating judge must, without delay, inform the judicial authority of the issuing State by any means which creates a written record, setting out the grounds for postponement and the predicted length of the postponement. Once the cause of the postponement ceases to exist, the investigating judge must execute the seizure decision. Requests for assistance based on the multilateral conventions listed above must be executed as soon as possible.

6. CONCISE LEGAL PRACTICAL INFORMATION

France

a. Special requirements

The presence, at the execution of this measure, of officers of the requesting State is only possible under the Convention of 29 May 2000 or, for countries which have not ratified that convention, under the 1959 Convention. Under the Framework Decision of 22 July 2003 transposed into French law by the Act of 4 July 2005, dual criminality will only be required in respect of requests for the seizure of assets for the purpose of their subsequent confiscation. There is no need for dual criminality in respect of requests for the freezing or seizure of assets for use as evidence. Grounds for refusal: •Optional refusal: article 695-9-16 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Refusal is only optional when it is established by the magistrate that the certificate has not been produced, is incomplete, manifestly does not correspond to the freezing decision that has been produced or has not been translated into French. This refusal is at the discretion of the magistrate because he can choose to allow the person who drafted the decision a period of time to complete their request or to amend it and can even, if he considers that he has been provided with sufficient information, decide not to require the [issuing/requesting] judicial authority to provide any supplementary information. •Compulsory refusal : article 694-4 and 695-9-17 of the Code of Criminal Procedure: The investigating magistrate can refuse to execute a decision to freeze in the following circumstances set out in article 695-9-17 of the Code of Criminal Procedure: 1) in cases of immunity or if it is not possible to seize the asset or piece of evidence under French law; 2) on the basis of the principle of non bis in idem (double jeopardy); 3) if the purpose of the freezing decision is discriminatory; 4) on the basis of the dual criminality requirement in cases of seizure for the purpose of confiscation. It will also be necessary to check the provisions of article 694-4 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which has general application in respect of international requests for mutual legal assistance, which provides that the execution of requests can be refused if the requests are likely to prejudice public order or the fundamental interests of the nation. The possibility of appealing against a decision to freeze an item of evidence or an item for the purpose of subsequent confiscation is open to the person who is in possession of the item of evidence or the asset which is the subject of the freezing decision and to any other person who claims to have a right over the asset. To lodge an appeal it is necessary to file an application with the registry of the relevant investigation chamber (i.e. the investigation chamber of the court with jurisdiction over the place where the item was seized) within ten days of the implementation of the decision. The appeal does not have suspensive effect and must not be based on the substantive grounds of the freezing decision. A person affected by the freezing decision can also obtain information, from the registry of the investigation chamber, about judicial remedies (rights of appeal) available in the issuing State mentioned in the certificate. Assets seized for the purpose of being used as evidence can be transferred immediately to the State which issued the certificate if the decision to freeze evidence is accompanied by a request to transfer the items and if the decision to execute the freezing decision is a final decision. Assets seized for the purpose of subsequent confiscation shall be retained in France until the execution of the confiscation decision that was requested under the cooperation procedure for this purpose.

b. Other useful information

N/A

Last reviewed on 6 July 2016 by EJN Secretariat

Guide for a first visit
If you don't know how to use the fiches belges for help in request mutual legal assistance, visit this page

  • ® 2021 EJN. All Rights Reserved