ARTICLES : FRENCH RESTRICTIVE TRADE PRACTICES LAW - WRITTEN NOTICE - ESTABLISHED RELATIONSHIP DURATION - PARTIAL BREAKDOW - PUBLIC POLICY NATURE

Breaking off of commercial relationships under French restrictive trade practices law: The influence of public order on common law

Since 1996, in French restrictive trade practices law, a written notice proportionate to the duration of relationship is necessary before a complete or even a partial breakdown. This provision has been widely applied in a protective way by the case law, both on the notion of "established" relationships or the procedural system and the public policy nature of this requirement. However, the application of this provision on a case by case basis, closely related to the context, increases the uncertainty of the party seeking to breack the relationship. In practice, this party needs, in order to be released of such requirement, to establish a fault of the other party.

1. S'il est une disposition des pratiques restrictives de concurrence qui a rencontré un succès et pour laquelle l'actualité judiciaire est importante, c'est bien l'article L. 442-6, I, 5° du Code de commerce qui dispose que tout commerçant engage sa responsabilité s'il rompt “brutalement, même partiellement, une relation commerciale établie, sans préavis écrit [...]”. 2. L'introduction dans l'ordonnance du 1er décembre 1986, le 1er juillet 1996, d'un article 36-5 imposant un préavis écrit, avait clairement comme objectif de protéger les fournisseurs de la grande distribution, face au déréférencement abusif. Cette innovation a donné lieu à un grand nombre de commentaires dont certains soulignent le souffle nouveau et les rapports tempétueux entre cette disposition et le droit contractuel. 3. Sa

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Jean-Louis Fourgoux, Breaking off of commercial relationships under French restrictive trade practices law: The influence of public order on common law, May 2009, Concurrences Review N° 2-2009, Art. N° 25839, www.concurrences.com

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