Hidden defects

French law foresees a specific regime for latent defects called "vice caché".

Update : Oct 2015

Definition of an hidden defects

This legal guarantee on latent defects is applicable when the defect was hidden and not visible, when it rendered the product unfit for use and when it could not have been discovered by a reasonably thorough inspection before the sale. A replacement, a partial or total refund or the cancellation of the whole contract can be obtained.

This guarantee has to be auctioned within two years of the discovery of the defect. It belongs to the claimant to prove the defect and the latter’s pre-existence.

Difference between hidden defects and non-conformity

The main advantage of this guarantee for the consumer is the starting point of the prescription period for legal action against a seller. Whereas under non-conformity rules the starting point is the delivery of the item, under hidden defect rules it is the date on which the consumer discovers the hidden defect. The prescription period is thus longer which may be of advantage to the consumer if he/she discovers a defect more than two years after purchase.

An action based on hidden defects also allows the consumer to make a claim against any intermediary in the sale chain up to and including the producer.



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