France: Regulator fines the Ordre des Architectes

Following investigation reports by the Directorate General for Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF), on Wednesday, October 2, the French competition regulator the Autorité de la concurrence issued a decision imposing a fine of €1.5 million (US$1.6 million) on the Ordre des Architectes for having, through its regional councils in Hauts-de-France, Centre-Val de Loire, Occitanie, and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, implemented anticompetitive practices. They consisted in setting up, distributing, and enforcing a fee schedule applicable to architects responding to calls for tender for public works contracts in a sector where fees are unregulated.

The distribution of this schedule was accompanied by a “fee policy,” retaliatory measures against architects who did not comply with these instructions and contacts with public contracting authorities to dissuade them from contracting with architects offering fees considered “too low.” The Ordre also circulated, through its national council, a standard form to the regional councils to use to refer an architect or architectural firm to the regional disciplinary boards in the event they failed to comply with the unlawful schedule.

The Autorité also imposed a fine of one euro on several architectural firm and architects as well as an association of architects who participated in the agreement through denunciations to the Ordre of their colleagues who did not comply with the “fee schedule.”

Full Content: Autorite de la Concurrence

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