Yes We Can, Except in Belgium

Can France control the internet?

Today, the French are voting to elect their next president. They may vote until 8 pm. But polls have been available since mid afternoon, and it has long been considered in France that nobody should vote knowing those polls, and pretty much the results. French law thus prohibits to publish any poll before 8 pm…

Everyone knows, however, that French law will have a hard time reaching other countries, and websites of newspapers in other countries.  Whatever! French officials have declared that a team of 20 people has been surfing on the internet to locate any tortfeasor and denounce him to French prosecution services. Everybody knows where the bad guys might be: Switzerland, Belgium … Can France control Swiss and Belgian newspapers?

An additional measure has been to get nine French polling agencies to undertake to starve potential tortfeasors, by waiting until 8 to reveal the precious information…

So, have the French scared their neighbours?

Le Temps (Geneva)

Pourquoi Le Temps ne publiera pas d’estimations anticipée

Une discussion est née, en cette fin de semaine, doublée d’une radicalisation des positions, en ce qui concerne la publication anticipée des estimations de votes de l’élection présidentielle française

Il faut savoir que les principaux instituts de sondage français mettent à disposition de leurs mandataires des estimations basées sur le dépouillement des premiers bureaux tests. Lors des précédentes élections, ces estimations étaient largement portées, au-delà des mandataires directs, à la connaissance des médias étrangers à l’Hexagone. Elles étaient sourcées et livrées de bonne grâce.

Aujourd’hui, cette situation a considérablement changé: les neuf principaux instituts de sondage français qui recueillent et élaborent pareilles estimations ont promis de ne pas communiquer ces résultats aux médias étrangers qui ne respecteraient pas l’embargo de 20h00. Dès lors ces sondages ne sont plus accessibles que de seconde main et ne peuvent être publiés qu’au mépris des engagements pris par les instituts.

Au vu de cette situation nouvelle, née de l’exacerbation de la polémique liée à une publication anticipée, Le Temps, après réflexion et pesée précise des intérêts, a décidé de ne publier ces estimations que dès 20h01, dans le respect des embargos décidés.

Summary: now that we cannot get the polls directly from the polling agencies, let’s obey the French embargo.

Le Soir (Brussels)

Toute publication est interdite en France avant 20h00, sous peine d’amendes. Mais le soir.be vous dévoile en exclu les premiers resultats.

Summary: In France, revealing any information would be a criminal offence, but we could not care less, and here they are!

Forthcoming on conflictoflaws.net: France v. Le Soir !

UPDATE: French prosecution services have announced that they are investigating several Belgian media and journalists.

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About Gilles Cuniberti

Gilles Cuniberti is a professor of law at the University of Luxembourg. Previously, he taught for 10 years at the Faculty of Law of Paris 12 University (Paris Val-de-Marne). His primary teaching and research interests are comparative law, conflict of laws, international arbitration and international litigation. He is a regular contributor to the Journal de Droit International (Clunet). He has been a visiting faculty at Duke Law School, Renmin University of China and Sheffield Hallam University. He holds a Doctorate in Law from Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne University and an LL.M. degree from Yale Law School. He was also a Paris-Oxford Doctoral Program Scholar for a year at Trinity College, Oxford. He is admitted to the Paris Bar and practiced on a part-time basis in the Paris office of a leading English firm from 1999 to 2004. SELECTED ARTICLES: Beyond Contract - The Case for Default Arbitration in International commercial Disputes, 32 FORDHAM INT'L L.J. 417 (2009) Le principe de territorialité des voies d'exécution, JOURNAL DU DROIT INTERNATIONAL 2008.963 The Recognition of Judgments Lacking Reasons in Europe: Access to Justice, Foreign Court Avoidance and Efficiency, 57 INT’L & COMP. L. Q. 25 (2008) L’apprezzamento dell’efficacia della clausola arbitrale da parte del giudice statale : un conflitto tra Italia e Francia, 21 DIRITTO COMMERCIO INTERNAZIONALE 2007.789 (with M. Winkler) E-mail: gilles.cuniberti@conflictoflaws.net