The French Council of State regulated the auctioneer profession by posing strict diploma conditions

Conseil d’État, 6ème / 1ère SSR, 17/04/2015, 373589, Inédit au recueil Lebon

The present case concerns the access to professional activities and the requirements related to professional qualifications.

A French decree introduced the Article R.321-18 into the French Commercial Code providing that auctioneer’s activity might be exercised only by persons possessing legal diploma, diploma in Art studies or diploma in Archaeology. Two professional organisations brought an action for annulment before the Supreme Court (Conseil d’Etat).

The Supreme Court (Conseil d’Etat) dismissed the claim. The supreme judges decided that the litigated decree posed an authorisation system within the meaning of the Directive (EC) 2006/123 (“Services Directive”). Therefore, the supreme judges validated the contested authorisation system on the grounds that it was not discriminatory and that it complied with the general principles of the common market.

In addition, the Supreme Court (Conseil d’Etat) held that the new diploma requirements did not place the ”commissaires-priseurs” in a dominant position. They noted that the auction market was already liberalised and that the ”commissaires-priseurs” had competence to organise only judicial sales. Accordingly, auctioneers may organise all other auctions, provided that they comply with the new diploma requirements.

The full text is available on EuroCases

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