A syndicate of co-owners can not be considered as a ‘consumer’

Cour de cassation, civile, chambre civile 1, 1 juin 2016, 15-20.119, Inédit

In the present case the Court of Cassation (Cour de cassation) ruled that syndicates of co-owners were not consumers and, consequently, they could not bring actions for injunctions of unfair terms previewed by Articles 1 and 2 of Directive 2009/22/EC.

An association, which regrouped several syndicates of co-owners, concluded a property management contract with a real-estate professional. Later, the association brought an action in injunction against unfair terms in the above-mentioned contract.

The Court of Appeal of Grenoble (Cour d’appel de Grenoble) found the legal action to be inadmissible on the grounds that the property management contract did not concern consumers and, therefore, the claimant was not entitled to initiate a legal action for the protection of consumers’ interests.

The association brought an appeal in cassation claiming that co-owners, individual consumers, were bound by law to form a syndicate of co-owners so that that last had to be regarded as a consumer entitled to bring action in injunction under the Directive 2009/22/EC.

The Court of Cassation rejected that argument and upheld the judgement of the lower instance court.

According to it, the Court of Appeal of Grenoble had rightly ruled that the contract concerned syndicates of co-owners, which could not be regarded as consumers as they were legal persons. The Court of Cassation found that the fact that syndicates of co-owners were acting as non-professional and they involved natural persons was irrelevant. Consequently, ‘property management contract’ was not a ‘consumer contract’ and it could not enjoy the specific legal protection even if it contained unfair terms.

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