Simplification of French regulatory constraints on sweepstakes and commercial promotions



French Law of December 20, 2014 ended French specific regulatory rules on sweepstakes and commercial promotions.

With a view to provide for simplification, all detailed requirement contained in the French Consumers Code regarding conditions of validity of sweepstakes and other commercial lotteries have been withdrawn.

In substance, the operator wishing to launch a sweepstake in France will no longer be required to:

  • File the rules at a French bailiff.
  • Provide a copy of the rules for free to anyone upon request (with compulsory reproduction of a statement for this purpose).
  • Distinguish the purchase order from the entry form.
  • Refund on participation cost such as mailing, communication or connection fees.
  • Publish the exact number and commercial value of the prizes involved in the rules.

New article L.121-36 of French Consumers Code set a principle of validity of all operations provided that they are not considered as unfair commercial practices. The new regulation allows French legislation to be (at last!) compliant with the Directive 2005/29/EC of 11 May 2005 on Commercial Practice and aligns French law to the most recent European Court of Justice rulings on the subject.

Yet, operators should remain prudent by not throwing out too quickly old habits. Regarding participation costs for example, it seems necessary to continue to write clear rules detailing with clarity the costs incurred by the consumer to participate, to avoid any risk of unfairness. Companies will have gain in terms of formalities and constraints but will quickly have to learn how to assess fairness in commercial practice.