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The Value of Amicable Insurance Expertise Reports in French Real Estate Law: A Closer Look at Recent Jurisprudence

In the realm of French real estate law, the judicial expertise plays a pivotal role in resolving disputes and clarifying legal matters. A recent ruling by the French Court of Cassation on December 15, 2022, sheds light on the probative value of amicable insurance expertise reports, particularly in cases involving property damage and insurance claims. This decision continues to build upon the Court’s jurisprudential framework regarding the evidential weight of such reports.

The Case at Hand

The case revolved around the collapse of a wall, following which the property owner’s damage insurer initiated an amicable insurance expertise procedure. This involved the participation of the company responsible for work near the collapsed wall and its liability insurer, given the company’s potential role in the incident. The amicable findings were documented in a report, signed by the insurance experts from both parties, which was then used to support the claim for reimbursement of the compensation paid to the insured party for the damage caused by the collapse.

Appellate Court’s Decision

The Lyon Court of Appeal, in its decision dated April 6, 2021, ruled in favor of the plaintiff, ordering the defendants to pay a sum of €35,000 for material damage and an additional €12,000 for financial loss. This decision was based on the technical cause of the collapse as concluded in the amicable report.

Court of Cassation’s Stance

However, the Court of Cassation overturned this decision, emphasizing the principle of contradiction as outlined in Article 16 of the French Code of Civil Procedure. The Court criticized the appellate judges for relying solely on a technical opinion and its annex, which were produced at the request of one party, without verifying if these were supported by other evidence. This stance is consistent with a well-established principle that, while a judge cannot refuse to examine a document submitted for debate, they cannot base their decision solely on non-judicial expertise requested by one of the parties.


Key Jurisprudential References

  • Mixed Chamber, September 28, 2012, No. 11-18.710: This landmark ruling established that judges could not exclusively rely on non-judicial expertise conducted at the behest of one party.
  • First Civil Chamber, September 9, 2020, No. 19-13.755: This decision reiterated the need for non-judicial expertise to be corroborated by other evidence, especially when conducted without the presence of the opposing party.

Implications for Real Estate Expertise in France

The Court of Cassation’s decision highlights the nuanced approach required in evaluating the evidential value of amicable insurance expertise reports in real estate disputes. While such reports can play a significant role in the adjudication process, they must be supported by additional evidence to establish the facts of the case conclusively.

This ruling underscores the importance of comprehensive evidence collection and the limitations of relying solely on amicable expertise in legal proceedings. It serves as a critical reminder for legal professionals and parties involved in real estate disputes in France to ensure that their claims and defenses are supported by a robust body of evidence, beyond just technical reports and expert opinions.


The evolving jurisprudence on the value of amicable insurance expertise reports in France continues to shape the landscape of real estate law. As the Court of Cassation further delineates the boundaries of such evidence, stakeholders in the real estate sector must adapt their strategies accordingly, ensuring that their reliance on expert reports is balanced with the need for corroborative evidence.

This decision not only reaffirms the critical role of judicial expertise in the French legal system but also highlights the ongoing dialogue between jurisprudence and practice in the realm of real estate law.

About the Author :

Business lawyers, bilingual, specialized in acquisition law; Benoit Lafourcade is co-founder of Delcade lawyers & solicitors and founder of FRELA; registered as agents in personal and professional real estate transactions. Member of AAMTI (main association of French lawyers and agents).

FRELA : French Real Estate Lawyer Agency, specializing in acquisition law to secure real estate and business transactions in France.

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