The long-awaited amending decree of 25 March 2020 n°2020-306 was signed on 15 April 2020 and has just been published in the Journal officiel.
For the record, the Decree of 25 March 2020 No. 2020-306 had defined the procedural deadlines related to the state of health emergency.
In this respect, I had the opportunity to comment on the applicable modalities to the construction and town planning sector. The consequence of this ordinance was, in particular, to postpone the deadlines for the examination of town planning authorisations until 24 June 2020, which seemed to slow down the entire construction sector.
In the face of strong criticism from all the players in the building and public works sector, the government has come to rectify the terms and conditions applicable by this new ordinance.
In substance, the deadlines remain extended, but to a lesser extent.
Time limits for processing authorisations
With regard to building permits and the processing of declarations of intent to dispose (DIA, allowing the community to exercise its right of pre-emption), the new rule is as follows: “the time limits start to run again normally over the time remaining from 24 May”.
The period from 12 March to 24 May is therefore suspended: the time limits will not have run.
Furthermore, it was specified by the Minister’s office that “the communities are not obliged to stop examining the files and we are working to ensure that those who can do so resume work” (Council of Ministers Minutes).
The additional month known as “buffer” which was granted from May 24 to June 24 is therefore abolished.
It is to be hoped that local authorities will have the means to organise their services for the dematerialised processing of authorisation files.
Time limits for appeals against authorisations
The time limits for appeals that expired during the state of emergency will no longer be extended by a period equivalent to the original time limit after the state of emergency was lifted (for some time limits, the date was thus extended to 24 August 2020).
This has the advantage of avoiding the extension of an appeal period that undermined the building permits and thus the start of construction operations.
Penalties for delay: an awaited clarification
The provision now applies to all private contracts (whereas it was explicitly foreseen only for public contracts).
The government has become aware of the practical difficulties for companies to resume normal activity, due to the lack of supplies, the necessary equipment and the constraints on site to ensure the health recommendations issued by the OPPBTP guide.
Thus, the buffer month is maintained, so that it is added to the period of suspension of penalties, i.e. until 24 June 2020. This will allow companies to organise themselves as well as possible and anticipate the resumption of their worksite.
Although this ordinance brings some immediate flexibility and a new lease of life to the building and public works sector, it does not resolve all the difficulties and bring total satisfaction.
Thus, for example, some of the players are questioning the quality of the building permit files, which would lead to numerous amending permits.
Likewise, the question remains as to whether the training departments will be able to process permit applications electronically. To be continued…
Construction and Urban Affairs Laywer, and member of the Jurisglobal network