In Preamble, I would like to inform you that, to avoid any further accusations, I purposely will not provide my opinion on FACIL’iti in this article. In addition, I will ask you not to share this pot page while providing your opinion either on this product, even though I should not be held responsible for your words; I do not wish to make the situation worse and I thank you for your understanding.
Why there is a FACIL’iti lawsuit against me
At the end of November 2020, Cédric O, French Secretary of state to Digital Transition and Electronic Communications tweeted the following (translation from the tweet originally in French):
This morning, with @ShowroompriveFR on our side for the launch of @FACIL_iti, that will allow to make their website accessible to people with disabilities and of the partnership with @Mirakl which objective is to launch its #marketplace. A great example of #TechForGood to follow!
Many people, including me, replied expressing their disapproval. My tweet, emitted from my personal account, only had a reach of 9 retweets and 32 likes (while the tweet from Cédric O had 19 retweets and 37 likes). My tweet was intended to be factual and informal, without any anger and harmful intentions on my part.
Despite the very limited reach of my tweet, FACIL’iti believed they should send, at the end of December 2020, a formal notice for denigration to the company I was working for. While it was indicated everywhere that I was based in and worked from Nantes while my employer who was in Paris was sent the said notice. In addition, I had indeed tweeted during my personal time using my personal account. Not having received the letter myself, I did not believe I was obligated to respond. However, this notice demanded for the tweet to be deleted, which I did two days after being informed of this letter, on the 28 December.
I thought the matter was settled, however, at the beginning of March 2021, another letter was sent to my employer, once again without any reason, despite my having already deleted the tweet.
Finally, on the 16 May 2021, I was served to my home with a subpoena letter from the Judiciary Tribunal of Paris.
In this subpoena, FACIL’iti expressed their wish for the Tribunal to press charges against me for denigration to pay damages and interests (without any concrete proof of the financial prejudice endured) of up to € 5,000, and ordering me to
stop, moving forward, writing any words which nature is to discredit the FACIL’iti solution by denigrating it and this, on all media, and notably, on social networks, blogs, websites, webinars. In addition to that, FACIL’iti also demands for me to be penalised to pay € 5,500
in accordance with the dispositions of the article 700 of the Code of Civil Procedure. This would mean a total of € 10,500 in damages and fines.
Could it be a gagging procedure designed to prevent anyone from criticizing the FACIL’iti solution?
Why am I appealing to you?
Since 2016, I write and share contents on the subject of web accessibility: on my blog La Lutine du Web, on my wiki (in French only), on social networks (Twitter, LinkedIn) and Github, on other websites (like Alsacréations or 24 jours de web) during conferences (DevFest, Paris Web…) or in podcasts. I agreed several times to be interviewed by students for their Master’s final dissertation. I take the time to reply to correspondence like emails I receive in which people ask questions about accessibility.
I try, depending on my personal availability and my energy, to contribute to the maximum of my abilities and provide free of charge the knowledge around accessibility and to act concretely for it. Incidentally, I currently do volontary work for the creation of a website for an handi-feminist association and I am a member of the local accessibility committee of my town.
Professionally, I have worked as a web accessibility consultant since 2016: therefore, I perform auditing services, I support teams in the correction of accessibility issues and I also work on the creation of accessible websites. All this work is based on the international standard of the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), which was transcribed into the French guideline RGAA (Référentiel Général d’Amélioration de l’Accessibilité – General Guidelines for the Improvement of Accessibility) thanks to the article 47 of the #2005-102 law of the 11 February 2005 for the equality of rights and chances, the participation and citizenship for disabled people. I also wrote on the blog of my previous company, during work hours.
In short, accessibility has been my job and passion for many years in both my personal and professional life.
My commitment pushes me to write articles set around factual arguments and sources, some of which are shared in the professional spheres and networks. My engagement for the accessibility of the web relies on the fact that I consider it to be a fundamental right for disabled people (Equality being part of the French national motto, shall I remind you). In addition, it just so happens that I am myself disabled and directly concerned by the need for interface personalisation, as I explained several times already on my blog. Yet, given FACIL’iti’s subpoena, I’m taking the risk of a lawsuit every time I give my opinion, including as a possible target user of their product.
Anyway, if my knowledge sharing was ever useful to you, if you believe I deserve your support to face FACIL’iti’s accusations, if the cause of web accessibility for disabled people is dear to you, I appeal to your help to cover my lawyer fees for my defense.
On my side, I have currently payed more than € 2,000 in fees; this is why I need your help.
Beforehand, please accept my apologies for the accessibility level of the platform used for this pot, Leetchi. It seems that this type of tool being accessible doesn’t exist yet… I hope you won’t encounter any difficulties.
To avoid this, I created a Firefox extension that, I hope, should help you. I invite you to:
- Use Firefox;
- Install the “Leetchi accessibilité” addon on Firefox (only in French);
- Create an account before making your donation (click on the button “Create an account”);
- Then, make your donation by clicking on the link “Contribute” of the pot’s page.
If you wish to support me in any other way than financial, don’t hesitate to contact me using the “Contact” page of my website.
I thank you in advance for all future support.
[Update – 12 October 2021] A huge thank you for your support!
When I published this pot yesterday evening, I thought it wasn’t the right time to share it as it most likely wouldn’t make much noise but that it was alright as I could always share it again the next day. You proved me wrong. My notifications transformed into real fireworks. I tried to follow and, today, as I was otherwise obligated, I had to set my phone on mute and I had to stop reading as I was submerged by a wave of notifications, messages, support and emotions. 😄
Don’t worry, I’ll read all your messages later on and I’ll manage to emerge! I am really deeply touched by your support messages. I didn’t really expect it to spread so much. It’s enormous and I am still having trouble realizing. You are the best! Thank you, thank you, thank you, a thousand times!
The pot reached and even exceeded the target in less than 24 hours. The € 5,000 target was set to finance the continuity of my defense. The excess will therefore help me with the expenses incurred until now. Less than 24 hours after the start of this funding, it is already time to close it!
I warmly thank everyone who participated financially; it will help me tremendously and it is already helping me consider the rest of my defense more serenely. (Special thanks to the person who, at some point, seemed to have given € 6 for the sole purpose of rounding the amount; I was wondering how long it would remain as such. It gave me a good laugh!)
And if you wished to participate and did not have the time to do it, I thank you too for having had this intention.
I also thank everyone who shared my article, my pot and who sent support messages and who may still send some afterwards. I’ll take the time to read them all and reply to you. Please don’t be offended if there is a delay.
The date of the trial isn’t set yet. I’ll let you know when I have some news or when I can.
Read you soon,
[Update – 6 February 2022] Submissions delivered by my lawyer in early January
(Translated by me)
Hello, I realize that I forgot to mention here that my lawyer delivered her submissions the first week of January. The opposing party has until 21 of March to respond to them if they wish (and then we can still respond and so on). To be continued…
[Update – 27 March 2022] Exchange of submissions and date of the pleading hearing
(Translated by me, thanks to DeepL and WordReference)
As I told you, my lawyer delivered her submissions on the 3 January 2022. She asked the judge to reclassify FACIL’iti’s action as defamation (instead of denigration) and, consequently, to declare the subpoena as null and the action as expired (the subpoena having been sent more than 3 months after the publication of the tweet) and then, to send back the company to better appeal. She asked,
as a counterclaim, that FACIL’iti be ordered to pay
5,000 euros in damages for abusive procedure and
5,000 euros under Article 700 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
Basically, it is the form that is discussed and not the substance.
FACIL’iti then had until 24 March 2022 to deliver its answer in the form of submissions; which it did since there is disagreement. Its lawyer asked the judge to declare the request for reclassification as defamation inadmissible. He asks in particular,
in any case, to condemn me to pay to FACIL’iti
3,000 euros under the provisions of article 700 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
My lawyer will not answer these last conclusions. The hearing of pleading to discuss the form (and not the substance) will thus take place on 13 October 2022, at the Judicial Court of Paris. I am not obliged to be present. If I choose to attend, I will not be questioned by the judge.
Insofar as, among other things, it is in Paris, as it is rare for the parties to attend this type of hearing, as the substance of the case will not be discussed, I am not sure that I will attend. I will keep you informed of the outcome of the hearing in any case.
[Update – 13 October 2022] The pleading hearing
The pleading hearing took place today. I didn’t attend but I got the news from my lawyer who told me that they didn’t say much more than in the exchange of submissions. The deliberation is scheduled for November 17th. Be patient…
[Update – 18 November 2022] Deliberation following the October 13th pleading hearing
The judge deliberated and the request to reclassify the denigration as defamation is denied. So we have to go all the way and defend ourselves on the substance. This is going to take a while…
[Update – 7 April 2023] Spending my Leetchi pot and submissions on the substance
Last Monday, April 3rd, the people who participated in my pot received an email from Leetchi saying that I had spent my pot. It’s true: I’ve spent all the pot.
To tell you the truth, Leetchi has changed its conditions of use and, from May, the pots that have money left on them for more than 10 months will have to pay management fees (like at the bank). Therefore, not wanting to pay these fees, I asked my lawyer, Maître Clémentine Normand-Levy, to invoice me in advance for the continuation of my defence.
This invoice was sent after the submission of the defence on the substance of the case on 30 March. FACIL’iti therefore has the opportunity to respond and then we will have the opportunity to respond again and so on until it is no longer necessary to respond. We’ll see how far it goes in time!
Thanks again to all the people who have sent and are still sending me their support, whether it was via the pot, via certificates or via words of support!
To be continued…