Construction project: How to stop work urgently?
A permit has been issued and you are against it? Does the developer or permit holder want to push ahead and start work? What can you do urgently?
Generally speaking, it is advisable to act quickly to contest a building permit. If an appeal to the mayor does not result in the cancellation of the permit, you can lodge a petition for annulment with the administrative court. See our article on the subject for the procedure to follow.
Cannot afford to wait for legal proceedings? You can take direct action if the situation is urgent.
What to do in an emergency to stop the work?
If the situation is urgent and there is doubt about the legality of the building permit, there is another way to stop the work without waiting for a decision to cancel the permit.
The “référé-suspension” procedure allows you to obtain a suspension of work without waiting for a decision to cancel the building permit.
You can request suspension of the building permit
You can try to paralyze the work by applying to the interim relief judge (juge des référés) of the administrative court for suspension of the building permit. A lawyer can help you bring this action before the appropriate court as quickly as possible.
1. In parallel with an annulment action
An application for interim relief, which must be lodged separately, is only admissible if the permit is also the subject of an action for annulment.
The only purpose of the “référé-suspension” is to suspend the work. It is the action for annulment before the administrative court that will enable the building permit to be annulled.
For information on how to contest a building permit, please see our article.
2. The situation must be urgent
The interim relief judge will give a ruling without delay. The judge will only grant suspension if the urgency of the situation justifies it.
Generally speaking, the suspension of a building permit is normally considered to be justified by the urgency of the situation, given the difficulty of reversing the work. If the work is about to start or is already underway, urgency is presumed and the applicant does not need to demonstrate it.
On the other hand, the permit holder may well endeavor to establish that, due to particular circumstances, there is a major interest in having the work carried out without delay (in order to avoid damage to a historic monument, for example).
The judge’s assessment of the urgency of the case will take into account the damage that could result from immediate execution, as well as the damage that would result from suspension.
You didn’t apply for suspension immediately? Or did you apply for suspension only when the work began? You should know that it has been decided that such circumstances are not such as to cast doubt on the urgency of the case.
However, you should not delay in making such a request. As soon as the work begins, you may be criticized for not having submitted a request to suspend the work. You may wish to contact a lawyer specializing in urban planning and construction, to bring such an application before the administrative courts as quickly as possible.
3. There must be serious doubt as to the legality of the permit
The interim relief judge will only grant suspension of work in a case of extreme urgency if you put forward grounds for serious doubt as to the legality of the decision granting the building permit. At this stage, the legality may concern only some of the effects of the contested decision.
A building permit is legal if the decision on which it is based is legal. Failure to comply with the rules governing the preparation of a building permit will directly affect its validity. An invalid building permit is illegal, and it is therefore forbidden to build under these conditions.
To challenge the legality of a building permit, you may wish to consider the following points:
- Was the use of an architect compulsory for this project? If so, was such a professional consulted?
- Was the content of the application complied with?
- Was the building permit application submitted to the town hall? Has it been posted?
- Does the building permit comply with the rules set out in the local urban development plan (PLU)?
For more details on how to challenge the legality of a building permit, please consult our article.
Please note that at this stage, you are not required to definitively prove the illegality of the building permit, but simply to raise a serious doubt as to its legality. An expert lawyer in urban planning/construction can analyze your situation and advise you on this point.
Do you have further questions about the “référé-suspension” procedure? Would you like advice on how to bring such an application before the interim relief judge?
Contact us and an expert lawyer in urban planning and construction from the AGN Avocats network will meet with you!