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Glossary of certain key French legal words encountered in the Construction Law field

Glossary of certain key French legal words encountered in the Construction Law field

  • "constructeur"

The constructeur is the person or entity which builds the ouvrage and the word constructeur could perhaps be translated for practical purposes as the constructor or builder.

However, French statute and case law characterise the concept of the constructeur very broadly i.e. as including all and any participants in the act of building.

  • "ouvrage"

The word ouvrage in not necessarily easy to translate grammatically, but, in terms of concept, it could perhaps be rendered for practical purposes as a construction or building or works in general.

The legal definition of what constitutes an ouvrage or construction is also interpreted very widely indeed by French case law and is not limited to a building per se

  • "rception"

The rception is an important French legal construct which relates to the formal official handover of the building work or construction upon its completion by the builder or constructor to the matre douvrage or building owner

A formal minute known as a procs-verbal de rception or p.v. de rception is drawn up and signed by the parties at the time and date of the handover.

The procs-verbal de rception is a formal acknowledgement by the building owner that the works are completed and that he accepts the handover.

This document does though set out any reserves as well as a snag list.

  • "matre d’ouvrage"

In essence, the expression maitre douvrage generally refers to the building owner.

  • "matre d’oeuvre"

The expression maitre douvrage should not be confused with the expression matre doeuvre (although it often is by non-French speakers) and it is usually translated as the project manager or main coordinating contractor.

For more information, in English, on the meaning and scope of technical and legal words current in the construction industry, please click here .