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Explanations on the DGCCRF inspection suites

Updated: Aug 22, 2022

If you have been the subject of a DGCCRF inspection, you will receive follow-up inspections.

The authority will inform you of your non-conformities and what to do. You will then have a response time which can be 15 days or a month.

Remember that the DGCCRF is the authority that acts in favor of:

compliance with competition rules;

economic consumer protection;

safety and compliance of products and services.

As a supervisory authority, it intervenes:

in all areas of consumption (food and non-food products, services);

at all stages of economic activity (production, processing, import, distribution);

regardless of the form of commerce: stores, e-commerce sites or sites linked to the collaborative economy, etc.

If you manufacture, sell, put on the market a consumer product such as cosmetics, food supplement, food, it is the authority that will protect the consumer.

Here are the possible consequences:

The educational follow-up: the warning.

This is a letter sent to the professional to inform him/her of a minor breach or infraction resulting either from a lack of knowledge of the law or negligence in its application. In the months following the sending of the warning, the investigators generally control the company again to verify that it has taken the necessary measures to comply.

For example, a small soap producer did not indicate on the label the mandatory labelling information for a cosmetic. A warning can be sent to him to remind him of the regulation and to inform him of the mentions that he must carry on his labels.

-Corrective action: The administration has several types of follow-up to obtain the rapid compliance of the situation observed with the regulations.The administrative police measures

-The injunction: it allows the administration to enjoin the professional, that is to say to require of him, that he adopts, within a defined time, the corrective measures necessary to be in conformity with the regulation (art. L. 521-1 and following of the Code of consumption and art. L. 470-1 of the Commercial Code). It is pronounced after an adversarial procedure. In certain cases, the law provides that if the professional does not comply with the injunction, he may be subject to an administrative fine or a penal sanction.

For example, in order to force a professional to correct labelling defects on a food product, such as the usurpation of a sign of quality (red label or organic farming in particular), an injunction is pronounced so as to have an immediate effect on consumer information.

An injunction can be addressed to any e-merchant so that it delivers the information envisaged by the law to allow its identification by the consumer (Identity, corporate name of its company, electronic or telephone co-ordinates, number of intracommunity VAT, membership in a regulated profession, professional title...). Law n° 2004-575 of June 21, 2004 for confidence in the digital economy.

-Measures specific to products, establishments or services : (Art. L. 521-5 et seq. and L. 521-19 et seq. of the Consumer Code). These measures are taken when products do not comply with regulations or are dangerous (or likely to be dangerous) for public health or consumer safety, in particular because of the operating conditions of an establishment that manufactures them. The administration can then order the necessary corrective measures by decree. Similarly, when a service does not comply with the regulations, the administration may order that it be brought into conformity. In the event of non-compliance, the administration may decide to take the necessary corrective measures itself, at the expense of the professional concerned, who may also be penalized (art. L. 532-3 and L. 532-4 of the Consumer Code).

If, during an inspection of a fast-food establishment, the agents find a significant hygiene defect that could be harmful to the health of customers, they may require the restaurant owner to clean his establishment completely.

For example, for breaches or violations relating to establishments, the reinforcement of self-checks, staff training, the carrying out of work or cleaning operations, the closure of all or part of the establishment; for breaches or violations relating to products, the suspension of marketing, the withdrawal, recall or destruction of products, the distribution of warnings;

For breaches or offences relating to services, bringing products and equipment made available to consumers into compliance or suspending the service in the event of serious or immediate danger.

Injunctions and settlements relating to anti-competitive practices:

When the DGCCRF's investigations demonstrate the existence of so-called "local" anti-competitive practices, the administration uses the injunction and settlement powers available to the Minister of the Economy to settle these practices (Article L. 464-9 of the French Commercial Code). If the settlement is refused or the injunction is not complied with, the case is referred to the Competition Authority.

The DGCCRF has issued injunctions to companies that had entered into a cartel to allocate lots in local public procurement contracts; they had exchanged commercial information before submitting their bids, and thus harmed competition, to the detriment of the public purchaser, i.e. the illicit practices only affected one or more local markets and were committed by companies with a turnover of less than 50 million euros individually and less than 200 million euros for all the companies responsible.

-Measures pronounced by the civil judge :

In order to ensure the economic protection of the consumer, the DGCCRF may summon the company before the civil courts and submit various requests to the judge, in particular with a view to ordering the cessation of an unlawful practice, the removal of an abusive clause or to prescribe to the hosting or Internet access providers any measure relating to the unlawful content of an online communication service (art. L. 524-1 et seq. of the French Consumer Code).

- Repressive consequences :

If the professional's behavior is particularly serious, the authorities may consider that he should be sanctioned. Depending on the type of breach, this sanction may be civil, criminal or administrative.

Civil penalty: in case of a finding of restrictive competition practices (art. L. 442-6 of the French Commercial Code)

The Minister of the Economy may summon before the Commercial Court a company that has brutally broken off its commercial relations with its customer or supplier.

Criminal sanction: the investigators draw up a report which is sent to the Public Prosecutor's Office, which decides whether or not to prosecute the perpetrators of the offence before the criminal courts. In the event of prosecution, the judge may impose, depending on the seriousness of the facts, a fine or imprisonment (up to the maximum penalties provided for by law) and additional penalties (for example, publication of the penalty, or a ban on participating in procedures for awarding public contracts).

The company may be condemned, for misleading commercial practices, to pay a fine of up to €300,000, and an optional additional penalty (e.g. a ban on carrying out certain professional activities for a maximum of 5 years or the obligation to display the decision at the company's own expense, or to disseminate it either in the written press or by any means of communication to the public by electronic means) In addition, the company's directors are liable to imprisonment for a maximum of two years.

-If a professional has misled consumers about the quantity and quality of his products, a report will be sent to the public prosecutor and the professional can be prosecuted for deception (maximum penalties: 2 years imprisonment, 300 000 € fine and up to 1 500 000 € if it is a legal entity).

Administrative sanctions: Certain breaches of the law observed by the authorities may result in fines being imposed on professionals, following an adversarial procedure, which allows them, having been informed of the administration's intention to impose sanctions, to have a period of time to present their explanations before the sanction is imposed. Fines may be published, at the company's expense, in the press, electronically or by posting (art. L. 522-6 of the Consumer Code and L. 470-2 of the Commercial Code).

For example, in the area of consumer affairs, an online sales website may be fined for having checked by default ("pre-ticked") the box relating to the consumer's subscription to an optional comprehensive insurance policy.

The DGCCRF regularly communicates, on its website, on the investigations it conducts as well as on the follow-up given to them.ésultats-enquete-dgccrf

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