France: Ordinance No. 2020-560 dated 13 May 2020 – New adjustment of the procedural deadlines in the context of the national state of health emergency

By Anne-Florence Raducault, Céline Gasser, Benjamin Maubert

05-2020

With lockdown easing, the French Government modified the system of time limits extensions, especially procedural deadlines, during the health emergency.

Ordinance No. 2020-306 dated 25 March 2020, as already modified by Ordinance No. 2020-3427 dated 15 April 2020 introduced an extension of deadlines to be expired during the health emergency period and adaptation of procedures during the same period. Article 2 of this Ordinance provides that "Any act, notice of appeal, legal action, formality, registration, declaration, notification or publication prescribed by law or regulation under penalty of nullity, sanction, foreclosure, prescription, unenforceability, inadmissibility, lapse, automatic withdrawal, application of a special regime, nullity or forfeiture of any right whatsoever and which should have been completed during the period mentioned in Article 1 shall be deemed to have been done in time, if done within a time limit which may not exceed, as from the end of that period, the period legally prescribed for taking action, up to a maximum of two months”.

For the record, Article 1 of this same Ordinance used to define the “legally protected period” in which the aforesaid delays to be expired would be extended “from 12 March 2020 until the expiry of one month from the date of cessation of the health emergency”.

Ordinance No. 2020-560 dated 13 May 2020 amended article 1 which now states that “Provisions of the present title shall apply to periods and measures which have expired or expire between 12 March 2020 and 23 June 2020 included”.

It is worth to notice that the end of the legally protected period, initially set with respect to the end of the health emergency date (+ 1 month), is now fixed independently on 23 June 2020, midnight.

In the end, the purpose of this new ordinance is to avoid another extension of the legally protected period as a result of the extension of the health emergency (until 10 July 2020) set out by the emergency law dated 11 May 2020; these two periods being now disconnected.

Consequently, for the periods of article 2 to be expired during the legally protected period, there are two possible scenarios:

  • If the duration of the period under 2 months, the period will start again from 24 June 2020 for the full initial term.

  • If the duration of the period is equal or up to 2 months, the period will expire on 24 August 2020.

Finally, the ordinance provides a lengthening of the extension duration for administrative and judicial measures. Extension will now last for 3 months starting from the end of the health emergency instead of 2 months initially. This includes measures of protective attachment, investigation, mediation and conciliation, prohibition or suspension measures - when they were not pronounced as a penalty-, as well as official authorizations, licenses and accreditations.

With these new provisions, the French Government intends to draw the consequences of the progressive lockdown easing and economic upturn that goes with it. Such changes should provide an incentive for economic operators to accomplish acts and formalities within the standard deadlines as before the crisis.

Moreover, this is a welcome clarification as many had anticipated for several weeks that the legally protected period would end on 23 June 2020.

Last reviewed: 22 May 2020