the professional travel doctor is a consumer like any other

LThe right of the consumer is based on the observation that the consumer is in a position of inferiority (legal and economic) in relation to the professional with whom he hires. Therefore, it contains provisions more favorable to this party considered weaker than ordinary contract law.

It remains to be seen who can benefit from it: is the doctor who makes a hotel reservation with a view to attending a medical congress a “consumer” or a “professional”? This is the question posed by the following case.

On September 11, 2017, Mr. X, a neurologist, reserves by phone a room at the Bordeaux Boutique Hotel, to stay there, with his wife, during a neurology congress. Unfortunately, the day before the congress, he was hospitalized. When his wife asks for the return of the price of the room (1,496 euros), the hotel opposes the clause in their contract that excludes any refund in case of cancellation.

read also Article reserved for our subscribers How is a customer refunded when they cancel their reservation?

Therefore, Mr. X takes legal action. He states that this clause, of which he only became aware after the reservation, which constitutes a “lack of prior information” – must be disposed of: it is abusive according to the Consumer Code (article L 212-1), as it creates a significant imbalance to its detriment.

other professionals

The society Calm down, which manages the hotel, then maintains that Mr. X cannot invoke the consumption code, because he is not a consumer. In fact, this is defined in’introductory article of the Consumer Code, as a natural person who does not act ” in the frame “ of their professional activity. However, he alleges, Mr. X rented the room solely because a conference on his medical specialty was to be held, regardless of whether or not he had to be accompanied by his wife. The court follows her and judges, the November 23, 2020, who cannot claim consumer status.

Mr. X appeals arguing that his participation in the congress does not make him a professional in front of the hotel. The Court’s Advocate General considers that his request should be rejected, in light of the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union, according to which the concept of consumer should be interpreted in a manner “ restrictive “.

Also read: An unemployed person in vocational training is not a consumer, according to justice

Not followed: the court, sitting in a sectional formation of ten magistrates (and not in a restricted formation of three), judge, in effect, on August 31 (2022, 21-11097)that“by signing the accommodation contract in dispute, Mr. X was not acting for purposes that fell within the scope of his professional activity”. It breaks the sentence and returns the parties to the court of Pau, which can judge again and dismiss the contested clause.

How to understand the sentence, lapidary, of the court? “The doctor who rents a room does not act within the framework of his professional activity, which consists of treating, estimate Mme Thomas Lyon-Caen, MX attorney Furthermore, when he makes the reservation himself, without going through a professional centre, he finds himself in the position of an ordinary consumer facing the hotelier. » Therefore, the judgment could affect other professionals (representatives of SMEs, farmers, etc.) who organize their business trips themselves.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *