Banking and finance form the backbone of the global economy, enabling trade, investment, and economic growth. Banks facilitate the movement of money, accept deposits, provide loans, and offer a range of other financial services. To manage the inherent risks associated with these activities, such as credit, market, liquidity, and operational risks, banks must adhere to sound banking principles and be subject to stringent regulation.

The principles of liquidity, solvency, and profitability guide banks in their operations. They must maintain a balance between these principles while addressing the associated risks. Credit risk arises from the potential of a borrower defaulting on a loan, while market risk is the risk of loss from fluctuations in market variables, such as interest rates and currency values. Liquidity risk refers to a bank’s inability to meet its short-term obligations, and operational risk is the potential for loss due to inadequate or failed internal processes, systems, or personnel.

Under French law, bank account holders are considered the legal owners of the funds in their accounts. Banks, as intermediaries, have the responsibility to safeguard these funds, ensure compliance with applicable laws, and facilitate transactions on behalf of their customers. Account holders have the right to access their funds, manage transactions, and receive regular account statements.

Banking regulation is essential for ensuring the stability and integrity of the financial system. It helps protect depositors, maintain confidence in the banking sector, and prevent systemic risks that could jeopardize the economy. Regulatory frameworks typically consist of laws, rules, and supervisory authorities to enforce compliance, promote transparency, and encourage responsible banking practices.

Banking and Finance in France

France’s banking sector is highly developed and diversified, featuring a mix of large universal banks, regional banks, and specialized financial institutions. French banks are known for their strong presence in domestic and international markets, their commitment to innovation, and their resilience to economic shocks.

The Banque de France, the country’s central bank, plays a critical role in maintaining the stability of the French financial system, conducting monetary policy, and supervising payment systems. As a member of the European System of Central Banks, the Banque de France also participates in the formulation and implementation of EU banking regulation.

French Banking Law

Monetary and Financial Code (Code monétaire et financier): The Monetary and Financial Code encompasses a comprehensive set of laws governing the French banking and financial sector. It covers the regulation of credit institutions, investment firms, payment services, and other financial activities.

Banking Act (Loi bancaire): The Banking Act establishes the legal framework for the licensing, operation, and supervision of banks in France. It stipulates capital adequacy requirements, governance structures, risk management, and reporting obligations for banks.

Law on the Separation and Regulation of Banking Activities (Loi de séparation et de régulation des activités bancaires): This law aims to increase the stability of the banking system by separating speculative activities from deposit-taking activities and strengthening banks’ capital requirements.

Domestic enforcement of domestic and international sanctions in France is mainly carried out by the Autorité de contrôle prudentiel et de résolution (ACPR), the country’s prudential supervision and resolution authority. The ACPR is empowered to impose administrative sanctions, such as warnings, fines, and license withdrawals, for banks that violate regulations. It can also initiate criminal proceedings in cases of severe misconduct or non-compliance. In addition to domestic enforcement, French banks are subject to international regulatory frameworks, such as the European Union’s (EU) Single Supervisory Mechanism and the Basel III Accord. The EU’s supervisory framework facilitates cross-border cooperation among member states, while the Basel III Accord sets global standards for capital, liquidity, and leverage requirements to enhance the stability of the international banking system.

Bank Insolvency Procedures in France

In France, the insolvency procedures for banks are governed by the Monetary and Financial Code and the ACPR’s resolution powers. When a bank is deemed likely to fail, the ACPR, in cooperation with the Single Resolution Board (SRB) at the EU level, takes the necessary measures to resolve the situation. Resolution tools include the sale of the bank’s assets, the transfer of its critical functions to another institution, and the establishment of a bridge institution to maintain essential services.

If a resolution is not feasible or in the public interest, the bank may be subject to bankruptcy proceedings under French insolvency law. In such cases, a bankruptcy estate is created, and a liquidator is appointed to liquidate the bank’s assets and distribute the proceeds among creditors according to their priority.

Protecting Creditors Impacted by Bank Failure in France

International bank creditors concerned about losing money in French bank failures can rely on the country’s robust legal framework for protection. The French Deposit Guarantee and Resolution Fund (FGDR) guarantees the repayment of deposits up to €100,000 per depositor per bank, which provides a safety net for retail depositors. In addition, unsecured creditors, such as bondholders and other wholesale funding providers, can benefit from the resolution tools and measures provided by the ACPR and the SRB.

Furthermore, creditors can seek recourse through French courts in cases of bank insolvency, as the country’s legal system is well-regarded for its efficiency and impartiality. In summary, France’s comprehensive banking law framework, coupled with its stable and well-regulated financial sector, offers significant protection to international bank creditors concerned about potential bank failures.