By Paul Davies and Michael Green

In August 2015, the French government amended the French Energy Transition Law to include provisions rendering “planned obsolescence” a misdemeanour. In the latest wording of the provisions, article L.441-2 of the Consumer Protection Code (Code de la consommation) defines planned obsolescence as “… resorting to techniques whereby the entity responsible for the placement of a product on the market deliberately intends to shorten [that product’s] life span in order to increase its rate of replacement”. Interestingly, this is the French government’s second attempt to define planned obsolescence since introducing the provision two years ago.

Violation of the prohibition on planned obsolescence carries a potential two-year prison sentence and a criminal fine of up to €300,000. As an added deterrent, the law further provides that the courts may increase the fine to up to 5% of the annual turnover of the entity concerned (based on the average of the entity’s turnover in the three years prior to the date of the offence). The courts will therefore have the option of increasing a fine, provided the fine is proportionate to the infringing party’s gain (see Consumer Protection Code, art. L.454-6).