Insolvency in France – an Introduction

The French ecosystem is facing a major paradigm shift.

While companies and major businesses have benefited for several years from cheap debt due to an abundance of liquidity (fuelled by banks, alternative providers of funding and private debt) and an accommodating monetary policy characterised by extremely low interest rates, they are now facing a sharp liquidity rarefication.


Fewer Insolvencies for More Opportunities

At the end of 2021, corporate bankruptcies (for most company sizes and in most sectors) were at their lowest level compared to the pre-COVID-19 figures from 2019, with a 50% drop in insolvency proceedings and a 10% decrease in pre-insolvency situations. This was largely due to the temporary impact of government emergency measures and support, including:


1. State of the Restructuring Market

1.1 Market Trends and Changes

State of the Restructuring and Insolvency Market

There were 27,359 insolvencies in France as of the end of September 2021, down 25.1% from the same period in 2020, and down 47.9% from September 2019. Such reduction is relatively stable across all sectors, including those most severely affected by the health-related restrictions, such as accommodation and food services (down 44.2% year-on-year) and trade (down 28.1% year on year).


The reform resulting from Order no. 2021-1193 dated September 15, 2021 is applicable to proceedings initiated as of October 1, 2021

French insolvency law is undergoing a far-reaching reform, 7 years after the last major reform that came from Order No. 2014-326 of March 12, 2014. This reform is the result of Order No. 2021-1193 amending Book VI of the French Commercial Code, adopted by the Council of Ministers on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 (the Order).


Presented as a major measure of the five-year French presidential term, the law “on growth and business transformation”, also known as the PACTE Act, came into force on May 24th, 2019. Amongst the changes that were brought, some of them deserve a particular focus.

Two phases of the reform. The PACTE Act revises the insolvency legal framework and mainly empowers the executive to directly implement the EU insolvency directive and to reform the law on security interests within a period of two years.

The first phase of the reform