No mandatory rules applicable to a moratorium of loans (strictly speaking) have been taken but voluntary moratorium rules and mandatory stay measures have been implemented.
An emergency law to face the COVID-19 epidemic has been adopted on 22 March 2020, which authorises the French Government to issue measures by ordinances. Pursuant to this law, ordinance n. 2020-306 dated 25 March 2020 on the extension of time limits and adaptation of procedures during the Emergency Period (as defined below) has been taken and supplemented by ordinance n. 2020-427 dated 15 April 2020 laying down various provisions relating to time limits (all together the "Ordinance").
Article 4 of the Ordinance provides that any penalty, acceleration or termination clause due to a default of a counterparty (including a borrower) will not take effect if such default has occurred during a legal protection period defined by the Ordinance. Such legal protection period (the "Legal Protection Period") starts on 12 March 2020 and ends at the end of a 1-month period after the end of the Emergency Period (i.e. as of today 24 June 2020 but the French Government has announced that such period will be extended for a two-month period). The “Emergency Period” is the period during which emergency health measures (such as confinement) may be taken by the French Government. On the date hereof, the Emergency Period extends until 24 May 2020 but the French Government has announced that such period will be extended for a two-month period.
Following the end of the Legal Protection Period, penalty, acceleration or termination clauses the effects of which have been suspended during the Legal Protection Period shall take effect once again at the end of a period starting at the end of the Legal Protection Period and equal to the number of days elapsed between (i) 12 March 2020 (or, if later, the date on which the defaulted obligation has arisen) and (ii) the date on which such defaulted obligation should have been executed, except if, at the end of such period, the relevant debtor has properly performed the relevant defaulted obligation.
With respect to any obligation whose term expires after the end of the Legal Protection Period, penalty, acceleration or termination clauses the effects of which have been suspended during the Legal Protection Period shall take effect once again at the end of a period equal to the number of days elapsed between (i) 12 March 2020 (or, if later, the date on which the defaulted obligation has arisen) and (ii) the end of the Legal Protection Period. The provisions described in the present paragraph do not apply to payment obligations.
In addition, the course of periodic penalty payments (astreintes) and the application of penalty clauses included in loan agreements and which took effect before the beginning of the Legal Protection Period shall be suspended during such Legal Protection Period.
The Ordinance also provides that for contracts that (i) may be terminated only during a specified delay or (ii) are renewable if no denunciation is made within a specified period, this delay or period shall be extended, if it expires during the Legal Protection Period, by 2 months after the end of the Legal Protection Period.
In addition, voluntary measures on the loans moratorium have been announced by the French Banking Federation (FBF) and BPI (French public banking group).