France: New requirements regarding terms of sales - information regarding statutory and contractual warranties

12 March 2015

When a professional provides for a contractual warranty to a consumer, the consumer shall be informed that the French statutory warranties of conformity and hidden defects also apply to him. A Ministerial Order has recently been adopted to specify mandatory information that needs to be included in the general terms of sales in that respect.

To distinguish contractual warranties from statutory warranties, the French legislator, by loyalty towards consumers, has imposed a heavy contractual formalism on professionals.

Hence, when a professional sells or offers to extend its contractual warranties beyond the scope of the mandatory legal warranties, article L. 211-15 of the French Consumer Code already prescribed the professional to reproduce in the contract the full text of articles L. 211-4, L. 211-5 and L. 211-12 of the French Consumer Code (relating to the statutory warranty of conformity) and articles 1641 and 1648 paragraph 1 of the French Civil Code (relating to the statutory warranty against hidden defects).

The new French Consumers Law (“Loi Hamon”) has extended the scope of the professional’s information duty in general terms of sales even when no commercial warranty is being offered. Following a Ministerial Order adopted on December 18, 2014 and detailing the obligations set in article L.133-3, the professional shall now insert in its General Terms of Sales a box including wording that remind consumers of the following legal information:

  • In addition to any contractual warranty, the consumer may claim application of the statutory warranty of conformity and the statutory warranty against hidden defects.
  • If the consumer brings an action based on the statutory warranty of conformity:
    • He shall bring its claim within two years from the delivery of the good;
    • He may elect between having the good repaired or replaced
    • For the six months following the delivery of the good (and, as from March 18, 2016, for the twenty-four months following such delivery, except for second-hand goods), the consumer will not have the burden to prove the lack of conformity of the goods which will be deemed non-compliant.
  • If the consumer brings an action based on hidden defects statutory warranty, he may elect between the resolution of the sale or a reduction of the price.
  • It remains a question whether the new regulation will really help the consumer understand and assess the difference between the differnent action to which it is entitled to.