On 18 March, the Consumer Law was published in the Official Journal. It aims to re-balance powers between consumers and traders. The various provisions in the text represent real advances in terms of consumer protection.
This law covers 3 major topics in turn: the definition of a consumer, the enshrinement of class actions and consumer information on their possibility of using mediation in the event of a dispute.
The definition of a consumer in French law indicated in the consumer law has been lifted almost word for word from the article of the 2011 Directive. It explains that the term consumers “should cover natural persons who are acting outside their trade, business, craft or profession. »
This law introduces the class action to French law. It may be brought before the TGI or district court by a representative consumer organization at national level and approved. Note that the class action seeks only to repair the financial damages resulting from a failure by one or more professionals to meet their legal or contractual obligations. A decree from the Council of State is pending for validation of the procedures for applying class actions.
Towards more widespread recourse to Mediation
After the judge ruled on the liability of one or more traders involved, the consumer organization can submit their case to mediation regarding the compensation phase. If agreed, it will be submitted for approval by the judge who ensures that the agreement respects the interests of parties to whom it is intended to apply. The terms which will be set by decree remain to be seen.
Finally, this law reinforces consumer information on remedies available to them in the event of a dispute. In fact, it stipulates that upon signing of a written contract, consumers are made aware of their ability to engage in mediation or other alternative means of dispute resolution. This obligation upon the trader is an important factor in promoting mediation as an alternative means of dispute resolution.
This legislation is in keeping with the current trend to strengthen the protection of consumers vis-à-vis traders. The possibility of recourse to a class action is intended to counteract trade practices that could be considered questionable in view of the law. However, the Council of State rejected the creation of a national database identifying consumer credit for individuals and intended to offer “protection” against over-indebtedness, since it was considered to infringe the right to privacy.
Find more information on the websites of the INC and the Mediator of the ministries of the economy and finance: http://www.conso.net/page/bases.1_actualites.10_projet_de_loi_2.3_projet_de_loi_consommation/