It's not every day that one gets to observe a non-U.S.
jurisdiction abandoning frustrating, idiosyncratic requirements on
sweepstakes promotions, but – sacré bleu!
– we've got one to report.
For several years, international marketers have listed France
among the jurisdictions included in their international sweepstakes
and chance-based promotional games by conforming to certain unique
French requirements. Because of a recent development under
French law, we have been advised that certain French requirements
that are arguably inconsistent with Directive 2005/29/EC of the
European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2005 concerning
unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal
market (the "Directive"), have been abandoned. In
particular, this change will mean the following for international
First, promotional sweepstakes offering prizes on the basis of
chance do not need to include reimbursement instructions for
postage or Internet connection fees. This requirement has
been deemed to be inconsistent with the Directive as long as the
incentive is not so large in relation to the purchase option so as
to "distort" the "economic behavior" of an
Second, the requirement that the official rules be submitted to
a huissier prior to advertising the promotion is now a
recommended action but is not required. It is still
recommended (as with contests of skill) because it helps to have an
"official" version of the official rules filed with an
impartial third party in case there is any question as to what the
rules said at the time the promotion was launched. However,
it is no longer required because such a requirement is inconsistent
with the Directive.
However, do not go overboard with the champagne. Many
unique legal aspects under French law may still apply to a specific
promotion. In particular, French data protection laws have
actually tightened over the past few years, often making filings
with the CNIL necessary. Therefore, it makes abundant sense
to continue to carefully vet rules with international promotions
counsel before launching a multi-jurisdiction sweepstakes.
(Thanks to Michel Béjot and Caroline Bouvier at Bernard Hertz
Béjot in Paris for bringing this news to our
This article is presented for informational purposes only
and is not intended to constitute legal advice.
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