A French Decree (“Arrêté”) concerning legal warranties for the sale of products and the information that should be provided to consumers was adopted on 18 December 2014.
The Decree imposes mandatory provisions to be set out in the general terms and conditions of sale for products sold by retailers, both in-store and online. The Decree will enter into force on 1 March 2015.
Under French law, sellers of goods have to supply products complying with the description and specifications mentioned in-store or online (article L. 211-4 and seq. of the French Consumer Code on so-called “warranty of conformity”). This warranty also includes the fitness to general purpose one can generally expect from the product concerned. Sellers of consumer products are also legally bound by a warranty against hidden defects affecting the products (article 1641 of the French Civil Code). These two warranties are without prejudice to any further commercial warranty offered by sellers.
The Decree strengthens consumers protection as it provides mandatory provisions to be set out in the general terms and conditions with respect to the implementation of the legal warranty regime, including:
- The name and address of the seller will have to be mentioned in the general terms and conditions of sale, for the consumers to be able to make their requests under the legal guarantee of conformity and/or the guarantee against the hidden defects.
- The general terms and conditions will have to inform consumers that the seller is bound to a warranty covering the lack of conformity of products under article L. 211-4 and seq. of the French Consumer Code, and to a warranty against hidden defects under article 1641 and seq. of the French Civil Code.
- The general terms and conditions will have to include a box containing various information for consumers when products do not comply with the warranty of conformity as mentioned above. As a consequence, consumers should be expressly reminded that:
- they can initiate a contentious step on the ground of the warranty of conformity within two years after the products are delivered;
- they can opt between the replacement or the reparation of the product in case of non-conformity, subject to the certain conditions set out by article L. 211-9 of the French Consumer Code;
- they do not have to prove the existence of the lack of conformity within six months after the delivery of the good. This period will be extended to 24 months as from 18 March 2015, except for second-hand goods;
- they can claim for the legal warranty against hidden defects based on article 1641 of the French Civil Code and they can opt for the cancellation of the sale or for a price reduction in accordance with article 1644 of the Civil Code.
The new legislation is subject to a fine of €3,000 maximum for individuals and €15,000 for legal entities, which can be imposed by the French authorities if sellers do not comply with the above obligations of information.