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Preliminary conciliation obligation in case of disputes between architects


Successive regulations and the case law distilled by trial courts and by the Cour de cassation tend to develop and foster reliance on amicable dispute resolution modes, with court actions being an ultimate remedy.
The decision analyzed below illustrates this trend.
The indemnification action filed against a company by an architectural firm, which claimed to have been deprived of the supervision of construction works, was found non-admissible, as the dispute had not been referred beforehand to the regional board of the French order of architects, although such conciliation phase was not imposed by contractual provisions, as required by case law (Cass. 1st Civ., 6 May 2003, No. 01-01.291), but was imposed by the Architects’ Ethical Code (Decree No. 80-217, 20 March 1980, Art. 25). For the Cour de cassation, there exists a general and preliminary obligation, which amounts to a plea of non-admissibility, whether or not a contractual provision creating a preliminary conciliation procedure has been executed between the architects or whether or not such architects are registered with the same regional board.

The Cour de cassation thus seems to make the admissibility of court actions conditional on compliance with professional obligations. This allows for a general extension of the obligation to exercise an amicable remedy, regardless of the contract’s provisions.  

Cass. 3rd Civ., 29 March 2017, No. 16-16.585


Charlotte Félizot