Under the influence of the European Union, French law regarding sweepstakes has been entirely reformed by the entry into force of Law n°2014-1545 dated 20 December 2014. The new legislation is now limited to a single article and offers great freedom, but one needs to remain cautious when organizing sweepstakes.
I – A new legal framework influenced by the European Union
- European law has a liberal conception over sweepstakes. French law was more restrictive and used to prohibit sweepstake participation conditioned on a purchasing obligation by the customer. It also used to include other stringent requirements that would condition the validity of the sweepstakes, conflicting with the European conception.
- After several attempts, in particular the so-called “Hamon” law dated 17 March 2014, it is finally thanks to law n°2014-1545 dated 20 December 2014 that France has ensured compliance with EU legislation. Sweepstakes are now therefore governed by a single article of the French Consumer Code, Article L.121-36, written as follow:
- Sweepstakes “are permissible if they do not constitute an unfair practice”.
II – Former requirements should not be abandoned too quickly
- The new legislation scraps former requirements on sweepstakes. It is therefore no longer formally required, for instance, that the organiser reimburse postage and specific connection costs, or include a detailed list of the prizes, or even for a bailiff to register the sweepstakes’ rules, nor even to specify that the rules would be sent upon request.
- Vendors are now free to organize sweepstakes freely, providing that the conditions do not constitute an “unfair practice”.
- We advise our clients to organize sweepstakes with the greatest transparency and clarity. In particular it seems appropriate, even if no longer a formal requirement, to continue to apply prior conditions, in particular that the sweepstake rules specify clearly the list of prizes and the detailed procedure that needs to be followed in order to win the prizes. We also recommend that the sweepstake rules continue to be registered by a bailiff, because the rules provide safety to the consumers.