LAW No. 94-665 of 4 August 1994
relative to the use of the French language

Be it enacted, by the President of the Republic of France, by and with the advice and consent of the Constitutional Council through its decision No. 94-345 DC dated 29 July 1994, and the authority of the National Assembly and the Senate as follows :

This version incorporates the changes made in compliance with the decision of the Constitutional Council dated 29 July 1994 as well as the change made to the second paragraph of Article 5 by Law No. 96-597 of 2 July 1996 on the modernisation of financial activities.

Article 1. -

Established by the Constitution as the language of the French Republic, the French language is a key element in the personality and the heritage of France.
French shall be the language of instruction, work, trade and exchanges and of the public services.
It shall be the chosen bond between the States comprising the community of French-speaking countries.

Article 2. -

The use of French shall be mandatory for the designation, offer, presentation, instructions for use, and description of the scope and conditions of a warranty of goods, products and services, as well as bills and receipts.
The same provisions apply to any written, spoken, radio and television advertisement.
The provisions of the present article shall not apply to the names of typical products and specialities of foreign origin known by the general public.
Legislation relative to brands shall not prevent the application of the first and second paragraphs of the present Article to the remarks and messages recorded with the brand.

Article 3. -

Any inscription or announcement posted or made on a public highway, in a place open to the public or in a public transport system and designed to inform the public must be expressed in French.
If the inscription drafted in breach of the foregoing provisions is posted by a third user on a good belonging to a public corporate body, the latter must serve a formal notice on the user demanding him to cease the observed irregularity at his own expense and within the deadline set by the public corporate body. If the formal notice is not complied with, depending on the seriousness of the breach, the use of the good may be withdrawn from the offending party, irrespective of the stipulations of the contract or the terms of authorisation granted the said offending party.

Article 4. -

Where inscriptions and announcements referred to in Article 3 hereabove and posted or made by public corporate bodies or private persons on a public service assignment are the subject of translations, the translations must be at least two in number.
In all cases where the remarks, announcements and inscriptions referred to in articles 2 and 3 of the present law are completed by one or more translations, the presentation in French must be as legible, audible and intelligible as the presentation in the foreign languages.
A decree enacted by the Council of State specifies the cases and conditions for dispensation from the provisions of the present Article in matters concerning international transport.

Article 5. -

Whatever the substance and form, contracts signed by a public corporate body or a private person on a public service assignment must be drafted in French. Such contracts may neither contain expressions nor terms in a foreign language where a French term or expression with the same meaning exists and is approved under the conditions provided for by the rules relative to the enhancement of the French language.
These provisions do not apply to contracts entered into by a public corporate body managing activities of an industrial and commercial nature, the Banque de France or the Caisse de dépôts et consignations when such contracts are to be wholly performed outside the national territory. For the application of the present paragraph, those contracts considered to be wholly performed outside France are loans floated under reservation of Article 131 quater of the French General Tax Code and contracts relative to the provision of investment services as defined by Article 4 of Law No. 96-597 of 2 July 1996 on the modernisation of financial activities which come within the remit of a foreign jurisdiction for their performance.
The contracts referred to herein, which are entered into with one or more foreign contracting parties may include, in addition to the French version, one or more versions in a foreign language that shall equally be taken as authentic.
A party to a contract entered into in breach of the first paragraph may not avail itself of a provision in a foreign language which may be detrimental to the opposing party.

Article 6. -

Any participant in an event, seminar or convention organised in France by natural persons or corporate bodies of French nationality has the right to express himself in French. Documents distributed to participants before and during the meeting for the presentation of the programme must be drafted in French and may include translations in one or more foreign languages.
Where an event, seminar or convention involves the distribution of preparatory documents or work documents to participants, or the publication of proceedings or minutes of work sessions, the texts or papers presented in the foreign language must be accompanied by at least a summary in French.
These provisions apply neither to events, seminars and conventions exclusively organised for foreigners, nor to events designed to promote France's foreign trade.
Provision must be made for translation services when the events herein referred to are organised at the initiative of a public corporate body or private corporate body carrying out a public service assignment.

Article 7. -

Publications, reviews and papers distributed in France and drafted in a foreign language, shall include at least a summary in French when the said publications, reviews and papers are issued by a public corporate body, a private person on a public service assignment or a private person subsidised by public funds.

Article. 8. -

The last three paragraphs of Article L. 121-1 of the labour code are replaced by four paragraphs drafted as follows:
"The employment agreement expressed in writing must be drafted in French.
"Where the position covered by the agreement can only be designated by a foreign term without an equivalent in French, the employment agreement must include an explanation in French of the foreign term.
"Where the employee is a foreigner and the agreement is put in writing, the said contract must be translated, at the employee's request, into his native tongue. Both documents shall be considered as authentic and receivable in court. Should any inconsistency be observed between the two texts, only the agreement drafted in the native tongue of the foreign employee may be used against the latter.
"The employer cannot invoke the provisions of an employment agreement concluded in breach of the present article against an employee prejudiced thereby."

Article. 9. -

I. -

Article L. 122-35 of the labour code is completed by the paragraph below:
"The company rules shall be drafted in French. Translations in one or more foreign languages may be attached to them."

II. -

Article L. 122-39-1 herebelow is inserted after Article L. 122-39 of the labour code:
"Article L. 122-39-1. - Any document containing obligations for the employee or provisions which the employee needs to know for the proper execution of his work shall be drafted in French. Translations in one or more foreign languages may be attached to it.
"These provisions do not apply to documents received from abroad or written for foreigners."

III. -

In the first and third paragraphs of Article L. 122-37 of the labour code, the words: "articles L. 122-34 and L. 122-35" are replaced by the words: "articles L. 122-34. L 122-35 and L. 122-39-1".

IV. -

Article L. 132-2-1 herebelow is inserted after Article L. 132-2 of the labour code:
"Article L. 132-2-1. - Labour agreements, union contracts and corporate or institution agreements must be drafted in French. Any provision drafted in a foreign language shall be non-invocable against the employee at which the grievance is directed"

Article 10. -

The third paragraph of Article L. 311-4 of the labour code is as follows:
"3° A text written in a foreign language.
"Where the employment or position offered can only be designated by a foreign term without an equivalent in French, the French text must include a sufficiently detailed description to avoid any misleading interpretation as defined by paragraph 2 above.
"The provisions of the two preceding paragraphs apply to services to be carried out on French territory, whatever the nationality of the author of the offer or employer, and to services to be performed on non-French territory when the author of the offer or employer is French even though perfect knowledge of a foreign language may be one of the conditions required for acquiring the position offered. Nonetheless, in France, directors of publications written entirely or partly in a foreign language may accept job offers drafted in this language."

Article 11. -

I. -

The language of instruction, examinations and competitive examinations, as well as theses and dissertations in State and private educational institutions shall be French, except for cases justified by the need to teach foreign and regional languages and cultures or where the teachers are associate teachers or guest teachers.
Foreign schools or schools specially set up to teach Foreign nationals as well as institutions providing instruction of an international nature are not bound by this obligation.

II. -

The following paragraph has been inserted after the second paragraph of Article 1 of the education framework law No. 89-486 of July 10 1989:
"The command of the French language and the knowledge of two other languages are part of the fundamental goals of education."

Article 12. -

Article 20-1 herebelow has been inserted before Chapter 1 of Section II of law No. 86-1067 of 30 September 1986 relative to the freedom of communication:
"Article 20-1. - The use of French is compulsory in all the programmes and advertising messages of radio and television broadcasting organisations and services, whatever their mode of dissemination or distribution, with the exception of motion picture and radio and television productions in their original language version.
"Subject to the provisions of point 2b of Article 28 of the present law, the foregoing paragraph shall not apply to musical works which contain text written wholly or partly in a foreign language.
"The obligation laid down in the first paragraph applies neither to programmes, parts of programmes or advertisements included in the latter which are designed to be fully broadcast in a foreign language or which aim at the teaching of a language, nor to broadcasts of religious ceremonies.
"Where the broadcasts or advertising messages referred to in the first paragraph of the present Article are accompanied by translations in a foreign language, the presentation in French must be as legible, audible and intelligible as the presentation in the foreign language."

Article 13. -

Law No. 86-1067 of 30 September 1986 referred to above is amended as follows:

I. -

The following paragraph has been inserted after the sixth paragraph of Section II of Article 24:
"- respect of the French language and influence of the French-speaking community."

II. -

Point 4b has been inserted after point 4 in Article 28 as follows:
"4b. Provisions capable of ensuring the respect of the French language and the influence of the French-speaking community;".

III. -

Point 2b has been inserted after point 2 in Article 33 as follows:
"2b. Provisions capable of ensuring the respect of the French language and the influence of the French-speaking community;".

Article 14. -

I. -

It is strictly forbidden for public corporate bodies to use a trademark, trade name or service brand made up of a foreign expression or term when an equivalent French term or expression with the same meaning exists and is approved under the conditions defined by the provisions of the rules relative to the enhancement of the French language.
This proscription also applies to private corporate bodies on a public service assignment during the performance of this assignment.

II. -

The provisions of the present article are not applicable to brands used for the first time before the present law came into force.

Article 15. -

Beneficiaries of all types of grants and subsidies from public authorities and institutions are required to comply with the provisions of the present law.
Non-compliance with the foregoing may lead to the total or partial refunding of the subsidy or grant, after the concerned party has been summoned to provide explanations.

Article 16. -

In addition to the officers and agents of the criminal investigation department acting in compliance with the rules of criminal procedure, the agents listed in points 1, 3 and 4 of Article L. 215-1 of the consumer code are empowered to seek out and report breaches of the provisions of texts drafted for the application of Article 2 of the present law.
To this end, agents are authorised to enter, during the day, the premises and vehicles listed in the first paragraph of Article L. 213-4 of the same code, and other places where the activities mentioned in Article L. 216-1 are carried out, with the exception of places which are also used for residential purposes. They may ask to consult documents necessary for carrying out their task, make copies of them and collect the information and proof required for fulfilling their task either directly on the suspected party's premises or by summons to the agents' premises.
They may also take a sample of the goods or products implicated under the conditions provided for by decree of the Council of State.

Article 17. -

Whosoever shall directly or indirectly impede the work of the agents mentioned in the first paragraph of Article 16 and consequently prevent them from carrying out their task, or refuse to place at their disposal all the means required for this purpose, shall be liable to the penalties provided for in the second paragraph of Article 433-5 of the criminal code.

Article 18. -

Breaches of the provisions of the texts drafted for the application of the present law shall be notified by reports which shall be considered as authentic documents unless the contrary is proved.
Under penalty of becoming null and void, the reports must be addressed within the five days following their drafting to the Procureur de la République (French chief prosecutor).
A copy shall also be provided to the interested party within the same time frame.

Article 19. -

Article 2-14 drafted as follows has been inserted after Article 2-13 of the rules of criminal procedure:
"Article 2-14. - Any association constituted in compliance with relevant laws and declaring in its articles the defence of the French language and approved under the conditions defined by decree of the Council of State may exercise the rights of a plaintiff in matters concerning breaches of the provisions of the texts drafted for the application of articles 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 10 of law No. 94-665 of 4 August 1994 relative to the use of the French language."

Article 20. -

The present law is a public policy law. It shall apply to contracts entered into after it comes into force.

Article 21. -

The provisions of the present law apply without prejudice to the legislation and regulations relative to regional languages in France and is not against their use.

Article 22. -

Each year, the Government shall communicate to the assemblies before 15 September, a report on the application of the present law and provisions of international agreements and treaties relative to the status of the French language in international institutions.

Article 23. -

The provisions of Article 2 shall come into force on the date of publication of the Council of State decree, which defines breaches of the provisions of this Article, no later than 12 months after the publication of the present law in the Journal Officiel.
The provisions of articles 3 and 4 of the present law shall come into force six months after Article 2 comes into force.

Article 24. -

Law No. 75-1349 of 31 December 1975 relative to the use of the French language is repealed, with the exception of articles 1 to 3 thereof, which will be repealed when Article 2 of the present law comes into force, and Article 6 thereof which will be repealed on the date Article 3 of the present law comes into force.
The present law shall be enforced as a State law.

Drafted in Paris, on this day of 4 August 1994

François MITTERRAND
Par le Président de la République :
Le Premier ministre, Édouard BALLADUR
Le ministre d'État, ministre de l'intérieur, et de l'aménagement du territoire, Charles PASQUA
Le ministre d'État, garde des sceaux, ministre de la justice, Pierre Méhaignerie
Le ministre des affaires étrangères, Alain JUPPÉ
Le ministre de l'éducation nationale, François BAYROU
Le ministre de l'économie, Edmond ALPHANDÉRY
Le ministre de l'équipement, des transports et du tourisme Bernard BOSSON
Le ministre du travail, de l'emploi et de la formation professionnelle, Michel GIRAUD
Le ministre de la culture et de la francophonie, Jacques TOUBON
Le ministre du budget, porte-parole du Gouvernement, Nicolas SARKOZY
Le ministre de l'enseignement supérieur et de la recherche, François FILLON



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