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France Adopts New Information Requirements for Automotive Parts Derived from the Circular Economy

The Order implements previous legislation laid down in France’s Consumer Code, which already provided that service and repair providers must offer customers the possibility to buy used automotive parts.  The existing legislation sets out the obligations imposed on professional service and repair providers, and lists the parts covered by the obligation to provide used parts.

In particular, the Consumer Code lays out three scenarios where the obligation to offer customers the choice to buy used parts does not apply. First, services offered for free or covered by a warranty are excluded from the obligation. The same is true where the used parts are not available within a time period compatible with the time period during which the car would be immobilised for servicing or repair, as provided in the contract between the customer and the provider. Finally, the exclusion also applies when the service provider considers that the use of parts derived from the circular economy would create a risk to the environment, public health or road safety.

It is reported that the French authorities found that there had been insufficient compliance with the existing obligation on service and repair providers to provide a purchasing choice to customers. It was alleged that such lack of compliance has resulted due to the limited economic incentives available to service and repair providers to propose this choice to customers. In order to tackle the issue and increase the use of used parts so as to prevent waste, the authorities are seeking to impose, by means of the newly adopted Order, strict information requirements on service and repair providers.

The new Order therefore requires that, as from 4 April 2019, professional service and repair providers must refer to used parts as “parts derived from the circular economy”, authorising them to use the acronym “PIEC” (in French: “Pièces Issues de l’Economie Circulaire”).  In addition, service and repairs providers are required to state whether the parts (i) were recycled by certified centres from end-of-life vehicles, or (ii) were repaired following specifications designed by the parts manufacturers.

Should a service or repair provider not be able to propose used parts to customers, he must state the reasons explaining why used parts were not available.

Hong Kong’s sellers of spare parts for automotive purposes may be interested to know that the parts concerned by these information requirements are listed in Article R224-25 of the French Consumer Code and include removable body parts, trim components, non-glued glazing, optical parts as well as mechanical and electrical parts such as engines and gearboxes.

The new Order also clarifies the scope of the obligations imposed on service and repair providers. For example, the Order specifies that the obligations apply in relation to the servicing and repair of cars and vans, thus including troubleshooting services and the sale of spare parts.

In addition, the Order makes it clear that service and repair providers must display the information, relating to the possibility to purchase used parts, on their website and at the entrance to their premises. According to the Order, the information must be clear and visible to consumers from the outset.

The Order further provides that the information displayed by the service or repair provider must list the parts concerned, furnish a description of the category to which they belong, and the cases where the service or repair provider is not required to offer used parts.

The French authorities also regulate the information to be furnished by service and repair providers in cases where they are not able to sell used spare parts to customers. In such cases, the Order in fact requires service and repair providers to offer a legitimate justification.

The Order also requires that service and repair providers inform individual customers that used parts are available, and to ask for their written agreement to install such parts.

Finally, if a damaged part can be replaced by different used parts, the Order states that customers must be clearly provided with all the available choices and options.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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