I understand that James and you are right, but take heart, you would have defenses: free speech and justification. (Best not go there though!)
I'm curious what is the law of libel in France and on-line sites?
As the editor of this publication/website I could be sued for libel.
Having spent almost 2 years helping someone, by doing the translating and all associated paperwork, sue a bad FRENCH builder and the ensuing court case I would advice don't go to court.It will cost a fortune in lawyers/experts and court fees and if the builder has gone into liquidation then there will be little hope of getting any money back. Plus whilst the litigation is ongoing the site becomes a no go area with NO work being able to be carried out. Hard pill to swallow. Maybe they could try suing through the local Hussiers?
Please do not mention any companies involved or name anyone in this post, discussion about the subject is absolutely fine though.
As far as I know, this architect has been here many years and is DPLG registered, which (I think) is the French equivalent of RIBA - Though, there seems to be three governing bodies. I must find out if he is RIBA registered and try it that way, though I am not sure if they will take as much notice when the work has taken place in France. Thanks guys.
A lot depends on whether the architect is a registered architect or just an "architectural technician" who offers the services.
If he is RIBA registered and he supervised the work then your friends would have redress through that authority. In my experience they don't like bad apples in their ranks. Their link is: http://www.architecture.com/
A direct link to the complaints procedure is here http://www.architecture.com/Files/RIBAProfessionalServices/ProfessionalConduct/DisputeResolution/PracticalMatters/MakingaComplaintsection2010.pdf
All I know is this. We have a ruin on two sides of the road next to us. It is owned by an English bloke who has been trying to sell the land and ruins for years. He suddenly thought he might just build his own house. He uses two British builders I recommended, one is a good friend. So we get feedback.
The man got quotes from the builders and a French architect. The builders have been here for twenty odd years so work within French frameworks, so it was the architect question he stumbled on. Too expensive, so he went to one in England whose quote was far cheaper. The builders told him to drop it because any hitch whatsoever and maire, prefect, judges, fonctionnaires and so on would just dismiss any issues he had because the architect is not here and would almost certainly not have worked to the letter of French regulations, laws, etc (as if French ones do).
In our case he appears to have abandoned the project. But glean what you can from that.