Free of charge and confidential
There is no charge for the mediation process. You pay only your postage and any legal fees you incur if you engage an attorney. The proceeding is confidential, and the Ombudsperson is bound by professional secrecy.
A multi-step process
Check to be sure that your request qualifies for mediation.
Submit your mediation request.
The Ombudsperson receives all documents needed to handle the dispute, and notifies the parties of the dispute. This notification, made via e-mail or postal mail, marks the beginning of the process.
The Ombudsperson examines the case.
- In commercial disputes, the deadline for responding is 90 days after the date of the notification to the parties in Step 3, but if the dispute is complex, the Ombudsperson may extend this deadline with notice to the parties.
- If you have received a fine from the SNCF Mobilités railway police, the Ombudsperson must issue an opinion before the fine is referred to the public prosecutor’s office (officier du ministère public).
- You may withdraw from the proceeding at any time.
- If the Ombudsperson does not have jurisdiction over your dispute, you will be notified accordingly within three weeks.
The Ombudsperson’s opinions are based on legal principles and fairness. You will receive the opinion via postal mail or e-mail, depending on how you submitted your request for mediation. Opinions are issued in French and English.
- In commercial disputes, the opinion serves as a recommendation, and the parties are free to accept or reject it within 14 calendar days from the date of the opinion. After that deadline, it is considered to have been accepted. If either party refuses, the opinion will not take effect.
- In cases related to fines (SNCF Voyageurs), the opinion serves as a recommendation. If the Ombudsperson recommends reducing the fine and both parties agree, the fine follows the normal procedure, and you must pay it. If you reject the Ombudsperson’s opinion and do not pay the fine, the matter will be referred to the public prosecutor’s office (officier du ministère public), and the amount will increase.
In either case, the Ombudsperson’s opinion is final. You have the option of asserting your rights in any court of competent jurisdiction, but the Ombudsperson’s opinion and the evidence used in mediation will have no weight.
The Ombudsperson’s mission
Every year, the SNCF Voyageurs Ombudsperson responds to thousands of cases, searching for an amicable solution.
He performs this mission with complete impartiality and therefore operates on an independent budget.
The Ombudsperson’s conduct is guided by the French Consumer Code’s provisions on mediation and by the mediation protocol signed on 5 February 2016.