ANJ secures extended French Consumer Code powers

France’s Conseil d’État has granted l’Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) the right to prosecute licensed operators for failing to meet national laws and standards on consumer protections. 

Recognised as France’s Council of State, the Conseil d’Etat serves as the government’s legal advisory for matters related to the French justice system and its Supreme Courts.

The council had arbitrated a two-year dispute in relation to whether former online gambling regulator ARJEL could apply French ‘Consumer Code’ laws to prosecute licensed operators.

ARJEL’s appeal had been contested by French online gambling association AFJEL, who cited that licensed operators required independent oversight to govern disputes and discrepancies related to consumer affairs. 

The ANJ succeeded ARJEL’s representation in the appeal, as France’s new unified gambling regulator, taking charge of French gambling’s regulated market supervision in June 2020.

ANJ continued the appeal, stating that it needed to secure ‘extended powers’ as the new gambling regulator in France – a country where player protections needed to be strengthened.  

This March, the Conseil d’Etat concluded its two-year deliberation in which it deemed ANJ as a regulatory agency that can uphold French Consumer Code laws.

The council stated that ANJ held the right to interpret Consumer Code laws in relation to disputes with regards to ‘unfair terms and unfair commercial practices’.

In addition, the council ruled that legal scope of Consumer Code laws could be expanded for gambling-related disputes, allowing ANJ to instigate direct legal proceedings against operators deemed to have breached national standards.

Granting ANJ its extended powers, the Conseil d’Etat warned operators that the ANJ held ‘no obligation to make known its interpretation’ of France’s Consumer Code.

The final proviso was granted as ANJ seeks to maintain a ‘soft law approach’ to its unified governance of French gambling, for which it will develop a series of recommendations for operators to improve their consumer protections and safeguards.

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