Small disputes with a professional in France

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When a dispute arises between a consumer and a professional (such as service provider for example), certain steps need to be taken in order to obtain a resolution.

Before embarking on a prosecution, which in small dispute is inadvisable due to the sum in question, you may find that a simple “letter before action” from a French lawyer will have more impact in obtaining a resolution than a letter from a lay person. This would not be a costly exercise.

In addition, you have the option of approaching various third party organisations to try to find an amicable solution to your problem. These steps have the advantage of being free of charge.

Firstly, you could contact a professional syndicate depending on the nature of the litigation.

You may also contact a helpline for consumers such as «La boite postale 5000». This is an organisation managed by the DDCCRF (Direction Départementale de la Concurrence, de la Consommation et de la Répression des Fraudes). It has both Consumer and Professional representatives and its aim is not only to advise on all matters concerning the consumer, but also, where possible, to facilitate an amicable settlement of disputes between consumer and professional. For more information call: 3939 if in France, or 00 33173603939 if abroad.

If, despite the above, you are not able to find an agreement, you can seek the intervention of a judicial mediator. The latter is a legal representative nominated by the president of the Court of Appeal. He is an expert in various fields, including litigation with craftsmen. Mediation is simple and free. The mediator can be appointed by letter, by telephone, or by attending a consultation. In order to find his contact details, and to find out how to meet with him, you need to contact the local Town Hall (Mairie) or the nearest small claims court.

Most of the time, those above steps could lead to satisfactory amicable agreements. However, it is important to have a good knowledge of the French language as well as the French legal system. As such, without spending too much money on legal fees, it is worth contacting a bilingual French Lawyer to assist you approaching those third parties organisations and putting the amicable proceedings in place.