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CONSUMER LAW – New bill proposing to introduce a right of withdrawal for contracts concluded by consumers at trade fairs


Legal watch

Publication date

25 October 2023

Two bills have been filed with the French National Assembly, the first on July 4th, 2023 (n°1482) and the second on July 20th, 2023 (n°1583), to introduce a right of withdrawal for contracts concluded by consumers at trade fairs.

As a reminder, the right of withdrawal is the right of a consumer to withdraw from a distance or off-premises purchase, except for certain goods or services expressly provided by the French Consumer Code, or for loan contracted to finance the purchase.

The right of withdrawal created by Directive no. 2011/83/EU of October 25th, 2011, on consumer rights, was transposed into national law in 2014. The European directive granted a right of withdrawal to contracts concluded “in the simultaneous physical presence of the seller and the consumer, in a place which is not the business establishment of the seller“. French law has never recognized a right of withdrawal for contracts concluded at trade fairs or shows, taking an constant position both before (Cassation Court, July 10th, 1995, no. 93-16.958) and after (Appeal Court, Aix-En-Provence, May 4th, 2023, no. 21/02238) the transposition of the directive.

As presented in the proposed bills, the introduction of a right of withdrawal would provide greater consumer protection. On the one hand, an average of 1,130 trade fairs and exhibitions are held in France every year, generating more than 30.5 million euros[1] , and leading to the conclusion of numerous consumer contracts. On the other hand, the French National Institute of Consumption has reported that nearly 55% of professionals do not inform consumers of the absence of their right of withdrawal for contracts concluded at trade fairs, despite the legal obligation to do so[2] .  

The first bill extends the definition of off-premises contracts, listed in article L. 221-1 of the French Consumer Code, to contracts concluded between a professional seller and a consumer ” d) on the occasion of a fair or trade show, when this contract is concluded on a stand which is not the place where the professional permanently or habitually carries out his activity“. The notion of trade fair or exhibition is widely understood as “any commercial event“.

The second bill limits the right of withdrawal to transactions carried out during trade fairs and exhibitions if they exceed € 100. In this case, the usual fourteen-day period of withdrawal will apply.  

To this end, and as for other contracts benefiting from a right of withdrawal, the professional must inform the consumer of the existence and terms of the right of withdrawal, prior to the conclusion of the contract, in legible and understandable terms[3] . The penalty for failing to provide this information is that the consumer will benefit from a right of withdrawal for a further twelve months period following the expiration of the initial fourteen-day period (i.e., a total of one year and fourteen days).

The withdrawal period runs from the time that the consumer takes possession of the goods in the case of a contract for goods, or from the time the contract is concluded in the case of a contract of services.

However, for contracts under € 100, the right of withdrawal will not apply. In this case, as is already the case for contracts concluded at trade fairs and shows which do not benefit from the right of withdrawal, the professional will have to inform the consumer of this absence of withdrawal, in clear and legible terms, in a sufficiently visible space provided for such purpose in the sales contract offer.

[1] “Salons et Foires en France : un puissant outil de développement pour les entreprises”, Octobre 2013, Etude Médiamétrie.

[2] Article L. 224-59 of the French Consumer Code

[3] Article L. 221-5 of the French Consumer Code


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