Business Law

  • Commercial & contract law
  • Company law
  • Investing in France
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International private client issues

  • French and international succession law
  • International private client matters, including real property issues
  • Trust law
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Contract Law

  • General contractual matters
  • Commercial contracts, distribution agreements and agency contracts
  • International trade and contracts
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  • Commercial and civil litigation
  • Litigation linked to international successions
  • Product liability and mass torts
  • Cross-border and international dispute resolution
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Succession law (French law and private international law)

Families live in an environment which is more and more international and, when someone passes away, a foreign element often makes the succession international. This can derive for instance from the fact that the deceased was living abroad at the time of death, from the existence of rights or assets outside of France, or from the fact that some of the beneficiaries of the estate live abroad.  

In such a situation, clients will need to be advised at different moments in their life.

Diane Le Grand de Belleroche assists her French and foreign clients ahead of any succession, in their estate planning, to explain the legal and tax rules which will normally apply to their estate and to organise, with them and in advance, this succession between the different relevant countries, by determining the documentation to be put into place, in accordance with the way clients wish to transfer their assets.

Her role is then in particular to draw the clients’ attention to the particularities of their situation, when considering their assets, and to recommend the steps which could be taken and the documents which could put in place, such as wills or choices of adapted matrimonial regimes. 

After someone has passed away, Diane Le Grand de Belleroche also assists her clients in the administration of the estate, in particular in relation to the various tasks which have to be performed in and between the various relevant jurisdictions. 

This assistance will often involve a collaboration with other lawyers, in France and abroad, who, with their specific and complementary skills, in particular on foreign law which may be applicable, will enable this assistance to be as complete as possible. The very wide network of the firm will be particularly useful for this. 

International private client matters, including acquisitions of real property

Beyond succession issues, Diane Le Grand de Belleroche assists her clients on the other questions of French law relating to their assets to which they may be confronted, for instance in relation to gifts or on issues of matrimonial regimes, and she also advises them on the tax consequences which such international situations may have in France. 

This assistance extends to the transactions involving real property which the clients may contemplate in France with the assistance of their French notaire, in particular acquisitions of real property or gifts of rights in real property.

Any purchase of real property indeed raises various questions, from the way to organise the purchase to its tax implications. The consequences of holding one or more immovable assets in France, on the general situation of the clients and on their estate planning, is of course also considered.  

Trust law

Trusts are a very common tool for managing assets in common law jurisdictions, and to organise the transfer of assets and their management through the time in a way which can be very flexible.  

But the concept of trust does not exist under French law and, because France has not ratified the 1985 Hague Convention on the law applicable to trusts and on their recognition, the legal recognition of foreign trusts in France raises a lot of difficulties.  

A very severe tax regime also applies to trusts in France, following a statute which was adopted on 29 July 2011, with various tax consequences in France. 

Diane Le Grand de Belleroche assists her clients on the legal and tax questions raised by foreign trusts which are connected to France. 


Duncan Fairgrieve has a broad commercial law practice in France, with significant experience of dispute resolution in an international and cross-border environment. As one of a small number of bilingual and dual-qualified litigators operating as both an English barrister and French Avocat, he frequently handles complex dispute resolution matters in both French and English. His in-depth experience of litigation in common law and civil law jurisdictions enables him to provide insight and reassurance for clients from common law backgrounds on dispute resolution in civil law fora. 

Duncan regularly provides expert evidence on French, English and Comparative Law issues in domestic and foreign proceedings, including before the French and English courts, as well as US and offshore jurisdictions. He has significant experience of dispute resolution in offshore jurisdictions, particular as an expert on the law of obligations in offshore jurisdictions.

Recent Experience :

  • Advising on product liability in numerous cases in France and the UK.
  • Representing a UK yacht manufacturer in litigation in France;
  • Representing a UK healthcare products company in a litigation matter in France;
  • Representing a South African company in a contractual dispute with a French pharmaceutical producer ;
  • Acting as expert in the context of large-scale litigation in the US raising issues relating to French tort and contractual liability ;
  • Expert retained by Jersey-based offshore law firm in litigation raising English, French and comparative law issues ;
  • Expert on comparative law issues in the context of litigation in a Caribbean country, raising issues of French law.

Business law

Duncan Fairgrieve has a broad commercial practice, acting both in an advisory capacity for international companies in respect of French commercial law matters, as well as undertaking representation in commercial and civil litigation. In an advisory capacity, he has a particular expertise in accompanying foreign companies in inward investment projects in France, with advice covering corporate, commercial and contract law aspects of investing in France.

Recent Experience :

  • Advising a UK healthcare company on its expansion into the French market ;
  • Advising a Dutch technology company with international activities on its development in France of a regulated commercial activity ;
  • Acting for a US IT company on the creation of a subsidiary in France, and subsequent related legal issues involved in expansion in France;
  • Acting for a UK IT company in respect of the development of a corporate presence in France.

Contract law

Duncan Fairgrieve advises on a wide range of contract law matters, often on behalf of foreign and international corporate clients. He has significant experience in drafting and negotiating the full range of commercial contracts, including distribution agreements, agency contracts, and sales agreements. 

Recent Experience :

  • Advising a UK company on the drafting and negotiation of an agency agreement with a French counterpart ;
  • Advising a US company on a raft of commercial contracts including non-disclosure agreements, and distribution agreements;
  • Advising a French multinational on the negotiation of a commercial services contract with cross-border aspects.
  • Advising a French design and advertising company on the drafting and negotiation of a design contract for an international project subject to English law.