News December 2015: Alternative Resolution - Consumer disputes
The “internal mediator”: further details as per Decree dated December 7, 2015
Following Decree n° 2015-1382 dated October 30, 2015 implementing the Ordonnance n° 2015-1033 dated August 20, 2015, a new decree dated November 7, 2015 has been adopted to specify the appointment terms of internal mediator (“médiateur d’entreprise”).
As developed in our recent post of November 2015, the companies must, before January 1st 2016, set up an alternative dispute resolution process which must be effective and free of charge for consumers. Such obligation is punishable by an administrative fine up to 3,000 euros for individuals and 15,000 euros for legal entities (article L.156-3 of the French consumer code).
Even though we are still, at this stage, expecting the list of the members of the commission of assessment and control of the consumer mediation (“CECMC”) (articles L. 155-1 et. seq. of the French consumer code), this decree dated December 7, 2015, which entered into force on December 10, gives some information regarding the appointment terms of the « internal » mediators (“médiateurs d’entreprise”) such as referred in article L.153-2 of the French consumer code.
For the record, in order to meet the compulsory obligation to appoint a mediator, the professionals have three options : either to elect the sectorial mediator (only a few mediators of that type exist at the present time) or, choose the mediator appointed by the professional federation or organism the professional belongs to, or finally set up by their own an internal mediation (« médiation d’entreprise ») which must comply with some legal requirements in order to safeguard the mediator’s independence and impartiality, since the « internal mediator » shall be exclusively paid by the professional.
Among the conditions required under article L. 153-2 of the French consumer code to set up the internal mediation, the professional must check that the mediator has been appointed by “a collegial body set up by the professional comprising both representatives of agreed consumer associations and professional’s representatives or by a consultative national authority operating in the consumer sector or belonging to a business sector, in the conditions such as provided for by decree”.
Pursuant to the terms of decree dated December 7, the internal mediator shall consequently be appointed:
- either by a collegial internal body equally constituted of at least two representatives of agreed consumer associations (such associations being different from those which are members of the CECMC) and at least two representatives of said professional (article D.153-2 of the French consumer code)
- or by the Consumer National Council (CNC) pursuant to the terms of new article D.511-1 of the French consumer code.
The professionals have, in principle, until December 31, 2015 to appoint their internal mediator, if they elect such option, following one or the other procedures and to let the consumers know about the identity and contact details of the chosen mediator (article L.156-1 of the French consumer code).
by Sarah Temple-Boyer
 Decree n° 2015-1607 of December 7, 2015 relating to the appointment terms of internal mediators