Conciliation mandatory for disputes under €5,000

Decree no. 2023-357 dated 11 May 2023 reinstates article 750-1 of the Code of Civil Procedure and makes it mandatory, on pain of inadmissibility of the claim, for parties to attempt conciliation with a court-appointed conciliator before any claim on the merits for payment of a sum of less than €5,000 or in case of excessive neighbourhood disturbance (except in cases of manifest urgency or circumstances making such an attempt impossible) may be initiated.

This is an important development in French civil procedure, as it is the first time that prior conciliation has been made mandatory in purely civil disputes (although it was previously required in family and employment disputes and where contractually mandated). It may be expected that this criteria for admissibility will be raised and the type of disputes subject to mandatory conciliation will be extended beyond the current provisions.

This decree faced challenges before it was issued.  The Conseil d’État (the governmental body that acts as legal advisor to the executive branch of government and final arbiter of administrative issues) rejected a part of the previous version of this article in a ruling on 22 September 2022 (CE, 6ème -5ème ch. réunies, 22 Sept. 2022, no. 436939).

The decree of 11 May 2023 incorporates the Conseil d’État’s findings by establishing that if no court-appointed conciliator becomes available within three months the parties are excused from the obligation to attempt conciliation.

Decree no. 2023-357 applies to proceedings commenced on or after 1 October 2023.




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