France has long had reporting mechanisms in place, in particular for public officials who become aware of crimes or offences in the course of their duties. Following changes in international regulations and in the wake of several high-profile cases, the French legislature has adopted a number of provisions since 2007, whose specific purpose has been to protect people who report such matters in good faith. The provisions relating to whistleblowers cover a very wide field. Nonetheless, they lack coherence as a whole and are not sufficiently precise as to the definition of a whistleblower or the procedures that the party concerned, businesses and administrative authorities should follow or implement. There is also a lack of satisfactory reconciliation between the rights introduced by these provisions and other rights or obligations (such as secrets that are protected by the criminal law and the rights of people targeted by whistleblowers who act wrongfully).
The implementation of these provisions, which are mostly recent, is still limited and fragmentary. Although whistleblowing mechanisms are now well established in large businesses, largely because of the influence of foreign legislation whose scope extends to other territories, this is not the case in small and medium-sized enterprises, which do not appear to be adequately equipped and for which it is often not a priority in a very difficult economic context; finally, in public-sector bodies, implementing these provisions is often still at a very early stage.