Founding Partner of SAMMAN Law & Corporate Affairs, Thaima Samman moderated on January 30th 2017, a panel on “The new forms of accommodation: homestay, couchsurfing, hotels…. From competition to a new set of rules” organized within the Lobbyist Lawyers Association Convention at the Senate in Paris.
The speakers first tried to give a definition to the term “collaborative economy”. Most of them agreed upon the fact that “collaborative economy” doesn’t simply represent an area of the economy but instead is underpinning a new system based on a variety of economic activities that cannot be seen as a whole.
During the debate, the panel also mentioned that the boundary between professionals and non-professionals is still vague, which could potentially lead to the emergence of a broad dispute on the topic, notably, as regards to the application of the tax rules and of employment law.
A consensus emerged amongst the speakers on the necessity of supporting the new activities of the digital platforms which have huge potential for economic growth. A better collaboration between public authorities and platforms players seems however desirable. It could help these players participate in their own regulation and be a relay between individuals and the State. Some speakers even wish that these platforms become "legal pedagogues" and take a more active role in empowering their users.
The aim of the public authorities, according to some of the orators, is to support the development of the collaborative economy activities while preserving the general interest imperative and promoting participatory democracy. It is crucial to understand the particularity of these platforms, but also to have a global vision, and not only focus on the legal aspect, to properly regulate their activities.
Finally, it was suggested to set up a collaborative forum, such as a "Grenelle of the collaborative economy”, that could open the road to a co-regulation that would serve both private and public interests.