Legislative framework, principles and functioning

The Spinetta Law of 4 January 1978 defines the concept and obligation of ten-year liability for all construction businesses in France.

This law has been codified in both the Civil Code and the Insurance Code and, in particular,:

– in the Civil Code, Articles 1792-1 and 1792-2, defining the ten-year liability for manufacturers for a period of ten years after the delivery of the product;

– in the Insurance Code, Articles L 241 et seq., defining the legal obligation of ten-year insurance for French construction businesses.

The ten-year insurance policy as defined by the Civil Code and the Insurance Code is MANDATORY and covers all activities that:

– are structural;

– may compromise the building’s solidity or render it improper for use.

Architects, specialists, or engineers to whom the contractor has entered into a contract for the performance of works, including the party that sells the work when it is completed, are also included in the definition of a construction business, provided that it was built or was commissioned to be built by said parties.

However, in a broader sense of the law, professional real estate agents are traditionally included (if they were involved in the design phase), as well as vendors of constructions to be assembled, and appraisers.

The ten-year insurance requirement is also contained in AFNOR P 03-001 regulations, a document defining the issues governing private tenders in the construction sector and the insurance envisaged for the construction business in relation to the contractor.

Ten-year insurance must be stipulated at the beginning of construction and the guarantee is valid for a period of ten years from the completion of work.