CNIL consults Faegre on whistleblower rules

Faegre & Benson partner Robert Bond has been appointed by the French data protection watchdog, the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), to assist French companies with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Until recently, French law stopped big corporations setting up anonymous whistleblowing hotlines, making it impossible for them to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley.

After a decision against McDonald’s earlier this year, which said that anonymous whistleblowing could be thought of as slanderous, the CNIL was prompted to issue a consultation on draft whistleblowing guidelines. The CNIL invited Faegre & Benson to respond to these.

Hunton & Williams’ Brussels office helped produce the response on behalf of the International Chamber of Commerce, and the UK’s whistleblowing charity Public Concern at Work also responded.

Bond said: “We have moved on quite a long way from the draft guidelines and I think it’ll help companies comply with Sarbanes-Oxley while also complying with French data protection law.”

The revised guidelines stop short of encouraging anonymous whistleblowing, but do not outlaw it. They do, however, allow companies to have a complaints department, as specified by Sarbanes-Oxley.