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Commentary: Theoretical & practical challenges encountered with French Duty of Vigilance law

"The French Law on the Duty of Vigilance: Theoretical and Practical Challenges Since its Adoption", Feb 2021

This article looks at theoretical and practical challenges encountered with the French Law on the Corporate Duty of Vigilance (the Vigilance Law) since its adoption and entry into force in 2017. To date, the Vigilance Law stands out as the only national law to have both enacted and implemented mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence requirements. Seeking to reflect a multi-stakeholder view, this article draws on civil society reports, doctrinal studies and on the first lawsuits filed before French courts. It consolidates challenges identified on three aspects of the Law: 1) the scope of the Law and the ambit of vigilance plans; 2) the interpretation and implementation of the Law’s three obligations; and 3) the enforcement and civil liability mechanisms.