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Legal action against an artisan for shoddy work?

How can we take action against an artisan whose work on our patio was shoddy? It cost more than €5,000 and the paving slabs are loose and wobbly. In the UK we would go to a small claims court. A.B.

The first step in a dispute with an artisan over substandard work is to write to them via recorded delivery letter with receipt slip (lettre recommandée avec avis de reception) clearly listing the problems and asking for them to be put right.

If you do not obtain a satisfactory response, you can take legal action or try, as a last resort, to negotiate using a conciliateur (a free mediation service). You can find one here:

One of the consumer associations ( is an alternative source of help, though they usually expect you to pay a fee to join.

Previously, if you wish to go to court, you would have applied to a tribunal de proximité small claims court for disputes over sums of €4,000 or less or otherwise the tribunal d’instance court (or grande instance for sums of more than €10,000).

However, as part of justice reforms, the small claims proximité court has been abolished and by next year the other two tiers are to merge to form a tribunal judiciaire.

In the meantime, you would apply to the local tribunal d’instance

There is a simplified free process called déclaration au greffe if claiming sums under €4,000. You fill in form 11764*09 (find it via and hand it in at the office of the court.

Other­wise, you have to summons the person via a lawyer called a huissier (bailiff).

The court will have to decide if, based on the devis (quote) for the work agreed on, there is evidence that it was done to a poor enough standard for there to be a legal liability.

If in doubt, you can obtain free legal advice at a Maison de la justice et du droit (put in your postcode at this page:


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