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Approved consumer association

Verified 20 May 2021 - Legal and Administrative Information Directorate (Prime Minister)

A consumer protection organisation is responsible for informing, advising and assisting consumers in resolving everyday disputes. It can act as a preventive measure to find friendly solutions and legal capacity represent the private or collective interests of consumers before the courts.

It is an association which has the right to defend the interests of consumers. This authorisation is granted to a consumer association which meets the following 3 conditions:

  • It shall, at the date of its application, justify a year of existence
  • During this year, it justifies a real activity of defending the interests of consumers (production and dissemination of publications, holding of information meetings and of perennials)
  • On the date of application, it shall comprise at least 10,000 members contributing to a national association or a number deemed representative for a local, departmental or regional association

The application and renewal is addressed to the directorate responsible for the protection of the populations of the head office of the association.

The approval is granted for 5 years renewable.

Approval of an association national is granted by ministerial order.

Approval of an association local, departmental or regional is granted by order of the prefect of the department in which the association has its head office.

The decision to approve or refuse notified within 6 months of receipt of the acknowledgement. Refusal decisions are justified.


An approved consumer association may provide practical and legal information, and free legal consultations, exclusively:

  • its members, in the context of litigation with a third party
  • and on consumer issues related to its field of intervention.

Defence of individual interests

Only an approved national association may seek compensation for the damage suffered by several consumers where such damage is caused by the same trader and has a common origin.

The association may be mandated by at least 2 consumers concerned (joint action) or by a larger group of consumers (group action).

Joint action can be taken in all courts (civil, criminal) and group action is taken only in civil courts.

The group action is only concerned with the compensation of damage to property (in cash) resulting from material damage suffered by consumers. For example, the association may defend the owners of a dwelling against a company of the building that has carried out defective repairs damaging the building. Property damage exists because owners must take steps to either relocate or have the consequences of the wrong intervention remedied.

If you are looking for an approved national association, you can ask the Directorate General for Competition, Consumption and Fraud Enforcement (DGCCRF):

Who shall I contact

Defence of collective interests

Only an approved national association may constitute civil where the facts directly or indirectly harm the collective interests of consumers.

The court may ask the judge to order a professional, who may be under a periodic penalty payment (payment of a sum of money is obligatory until the judge's request has been complied with), to do the following:

  • Stop illegal or dangerous acts
  • Delete an illegal clause in the model contract that it offers to consumers or in any contract that is being executed

The association may also ask the judge to take the following measures:

  • Order the removal of an abusive (imbalanced) clause or disregard it in all identical contracts in progress concluded by a specific trader with consumers
  • Require the trader concerned to inform consumers affected by such a clause by all means and at his own expense