Consumer law

No compulsory conciliation for consumers

Publié le null - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

In a contract concluded between a consumer and a trader, terms which require conciliation, mediation or arbitration before any legal remedy are unfair terms. They remove or limit the right to take legal action. This is what the Court of Cassation just recalled in the judgment of the Third Civil Chamber on 19 January 2022.

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Image 1Crédits: © Carinerwan -

One person had entrusted the task of rehabilitating his dwelling to a company. As the contract for the project was not properly executed, the consumer took the project manager to court to obtain further work and compensation. The Besançon Court of Appeal declared the private party's action inadmissible on the ground of non-compliance with a clause of the contract. The contract contains a specific clause which requires that, in the event of a dispute concerning the performance of the contract, the parties must first, before any legal proceedings, refer the dispute to the conciliation commission of the association Franche-Comté Consommateurs to try to resolve the dispute.

The Court of Cassation quashes and quashes the decision of the Court of Appeal. It points out that the term which obliges the consumer, in the event of a dispute, to resort to an alternative method of settling disputes before bringing proceedings before the court is presumed to be unfair. Such a clause, which deprives the consumer of effective recourse to a court, creates a significant imbalance between the rights and obligations of the parties to the contract to the detriment of the consumer. This clause is prohibited by the Consumer Code.