Regulation of Private Research Agents

Legislation on private investigators

Since 1942, a series of laws, decrees, ministerial circulars and a European directive have developed and refined the regulation of the profession of private detective until 2003 when Jurisprudence further established its status.

The liberal profession of detective – Private Research Agent, recognised as a “security profession”, is now accredited by the State (through the CNAPS). The investigator, who is therefore subject to supervision by the administrative authorities, is also bound by professional secrecy.

A liberal profession with regulated status

The so-called Law “for internal security” of 18 March 2003 overhauled, strengthened and supplemented the regulation of Private Investigators who until that date were governed by a text dating from the Vichy regime (law no. 891 of 28.09.1942).

In 1977, the Government issued two decrees: the first establishing supervision by the administrative authority for detective firms (decree no. 77-128 of 09 February 1977), and the second classifying the “Private Research and Information Agents” in the group of liberal professions (decree no. 77-1419 of 15 December 1977).
In 1980 (law no. 80-1058 of 23 December 1980), the Parliament decided to strengthen the good character requirements for access to the profession and to extend these requirements to all employees, including salaried investigators.

In 1981, an implementing decree (decree no. 81-1086 of 8 December 1981) completed the mechanism. In 1987 a second regulatory text (decree no. 87-593 of 22 July 1987) gave Prefects the power to close down a detective firm in the event of a contravention.

On 6 June 2000 the legislator established a new independent administrative authority, the CNDS – “National Security Ethics Committee” – law no. 2000-494 of 6 June 2000). Composed of Magistrates and Parliamentarians, its purpose is to ensure compliance with the Code of Professional Ethics by the security professions including detectives-Private Research Agents but also by the Police, Gendarmerie, Security companies, etc.

However, we had to wait for law no. 2003-239 of 18 March 2003 to have a precise definition of the profession of private investigator and this law confirmed the status of Private Research Agent as a regulated liberal profession requiring:

The creation of the CNAPS

The French National Board for Private Security Activities was established on 6 September 2010 by a government amendment tabled in the Senate in connection with law LOPPSI 2.
Introduced by a correction amendment, it was passed four days later, on 10 September 2010, and immediately transmitted to the National Assembly. Following various referrals between the two assemblies, it was definitively adopted by the Joint Committee of 8 February 2011.

Decree no. 2011-1919 of 22 December 2011, amending certain decrees implementing law no. 83-629 of 12 July 1983, provided for the creation of the CNAPS defined as “an administrative public institution under the supervision of the Minister of the Interior”.

The purpose of the CNAPS is supervise and regulate the private security professions, governed by the law of 12 July 1983, which include detectives-Private Research Agents. The National Board has an administrative police function and takes over responsibility from the prefectures in relation to: