A step forward in France towards the regulation of online dispute resolution platforms
A new step seven months after the adoption of the Justice Programming Act. A decree published in the Official Journal on 27 October 2019 has just specified the procedures for obtaining certification for online conciliation, mediation and arbitration platforms. But it will still be necessary to wait for a decree to file the first applications....
This eagerly awaited decree is adopted for the application of Article 4 of Act No. 2019-222 of 23 March 2019 on programming 2018-2022 and reform for justice (LPJ).
It should be recalled that this certification was a request from one of the players in the legaltech industry. According to the Minister of Justice, its objective is to "guide the litigant and (to) establish a climate of trust for those who want to use these platforms" (National Assembly, debates, 19 November 2018).
In practice, this decree establishes the framework for the certification of online conciliation, mediation or arbitration services by an accredited body (issuance, renewal, suspension and withdrawal) and the conditions under which the list of these services is published.
Beneficiaries of a full certification
Three types of persons offering an online conciliation/mediation service are automatically certified. These are the:
- justice conciliators;
- consumer mediators; and
These persons must nevertheless submit an application for certification relating to all or part of their activity to a certification body.
The certification process
Companies applying for this certification must apply to a certifying body, from the list of those designated by the French Accreditation Committee (Cofrac), or by any other accreditation body that is a signatory to a multilateral mutual recognition agreement taken as part of the European coordination of accreditation bodies, again in accordance with an accreditation reference framework published by the Minister of Justice's decree.
A follow-up after the certification is issued
To control the conformity of practices after the issuance of the certification, the decree provides:
- the obligation to notify any change in the legal status, organisation and functioning of the certified online service to the certifying body;
- follow-up audits conducted by the certifying body.
It is specified that the certificate renewal audit by the certifier body and the decision to renew the certification must take place, at the request of the online service, before the expiry of the current certificate.