Ten-year guarantee: an expert judicial review has the effect of suspending the guarantee period, not interrupting it!
The State had entrusted several entrepreneurs with the construction of the European Marine Documentation Center on the site of the University of Western Brittany. Disorders appeared on the building several years later. Following the request of the Rector of the Academy of Rennes, a judicial expert was appointed.
The Minister of National Education, Higher Education and Research then asked the Administrative Court to condemn the works contractors, as well as the supervisor to pay compensation to the State under the guarantee ten. The Administrative Court, which rejected the request as late, provides interesting details on the impact of a forensic report on the computation of the ten-year guarantee period.
Rule n ° 1: An expert referred has the effect of suspending the period of the ten-year guarantee.
The final acceptance of the work had been pronounced on June 27, 2000. The request of the Minister tending to the challenge of the ten-year guarantee of the contractors and the supervisor was introduced on May 30, 2013, more than ten years after the date of final acceptance of the works, starting point of the period of the ten-year guarantee.
However, the Minister argued that her request was not late. In this regard, the judge holds that an application for interim relief for the appointment of an expert has the effect of suspending, and not interrupting, the 10-year period after which the liability of the manufacturers and work can no longer be sought because of the disorders attributable to them.
Rule 2: Suspension begins on the date of the order appointing the expert and ends on the date of notification to the parties of the expert's order
In this case, the order appointing the expert was made on November 19, 2008 and the expert's report was notified to the parties on March 9, 2010. These are the dates that the judge used as a starting point and end date of the suspension, on the basis of articles 2239 and 2241 of the Civil Code.
Rule n ° 3: The decennial responsibility of the builders and the main contractors can not be questioned beyond the 10 years delay from the reception, possibly prolonged by a request for forensic expertise
In the case in point, the final acceptance of the work was pronounced on 27 June 2000, the date of departure of the ten-year guarantee. Its duration was interrupted from November 19, 2008 to March 9, 2010, when it began to run again. The ten-year guarantee therefore expired, not in June 2010, but in October 2011. However, the Minister's request was introduced on May 30, 2013, ie 1 year and 7 months too late. As a result, the Administrative Court rejected the State's request as being late.
Advice to the owners:
Upon the appearance of disturbances on works during the 10 years from the final acceptance of the works, it is recommended to seek the appointment of a forensic expert and to take action on the merits on the basis of the guarantee decennial as soon as possible after the notification of the expert's report.