The law defining Arcep's functions and powers failed to respect the constitutional principle of impartiality by allowing the president of the regulator to direct both the investigation of breaches of regulation and the imposition of penalties for such breaches, the court ruled. It ordered that the part of the law granting it the power to impose such penalties be immediately struck out. A new law will be required to restore its powers.
It's not the first time poorly drafted laws have rendered French regulatory bodies toothless: Later this month, the French National Assembly is due to discuss changes to the law that will restore the powers of the Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel, the country's broadcasting regulator.
Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at email@example.com.