Legal ruling could affect estate agents
A recent case in France’s Supreme Court suggests that buyers of French property can sue estate agents if they have drafted the compromis de vente without taking reasonable care to ensure that the conditions included are ‘workable’. The court ruled that Article 1999 of the Civil Code allowed the buyers to sue the estate agent for a reduction in commission after they discovered that they could not build on the land they had purchased for €450,000, as there was a covenant in place preventing any building on the land which was not mentioned in the compromis. The compromis also claimed that the land measured 1,000m2 but after signing, the buyer also discovered that the land in fact measured less than 1,000m2. The compromis de vente had been drafted by the estate agent, rather than a notaire. As a result, agents have been advised to avoid drafting a compromis, and if they do, buyers are advised to obtain any representation in writing. Buyers who find they have been misled by an agent should claim against them immediately, and the commission fee should be held by the notaire pending resolution of the dispute.