The expert appointed by the Works council can access information on the group’s strategic orientations

The law of 14 June 2013 introduced a new consultation on the “strategic orientations of the company.” This consultation subsequently became one of the three annual consultation themes introduced by the Rebsamen Act of 17 August 2015.

In a decision of 8 January 2016 (No. 14/09041), the Social Chamber of the Court of Appeal of Lyon specified the data the Works council could have access to, when appointing an expert for the purpose of this consultation.

In this case, the expert appointed by the Works council of Keolis Lyon had requested data on the strategic orientations of the Keolis Group.

Keolis Lyon refused to grant access to this information, arguing that the jurisdiction of the Works council, as provided by Article L. 2323-6 of the French Labour Code, is limited to the company. Similarly, the social and economic database, used for this consultation, mainly includes data relating to the company, and not the group.

According to Keolis Lyon, the expert appointed by the Works council could not therefore have access to data established at group level.

Although the Lyon Court of Appeal did not challenge the scope of the Works council’s jurisdiction, limited to the company, it however fire-tuned that principle.

Acknowledging that the strategic data of Keolis Lyon were essentially defined and controlled in their application by the Keolis group, the subsidiary having no real autonomy, the Court of Appeal considered that the expert appointed by the subsidiary’s Works council (who has the same powers as the company’s auditor) could access the group data for it was necessary to understand subsidiary’s strategic orientations and to fulfil the mission entrusted by the Works council.

This position of the Lyon Court of Appeal will likely be confirmed, since the Rebsamen Act now allows the consultation on the strategic orientations directly at group level, the opinion of the group committee being shared with the subsidiaries’ Works councils.