Blanche de La Mure

Université de Lausanne
Teaching Assistant - PhD candidate

Blanche de La Mure is Teaching Assistant and PhD candidate at the University of Lausanne. She previously worked at Fidal and served as a trainee in two business law firms and in the European Commission. She graduated from the Law School of the University of Paris II (Master II European litigations).

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Fidal (Paris)

Articles

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Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Sales representative : The French Judiciary Supreme Court reminds that the costs incurred by a sales representative in the framework of his activity are payable by the employer (Rhône chimie services)

176

In two decisions concerning sales representatives, the Court of Cassation reaffirms the principle that professional expenses incurred by the employee must be borne by the employer: In the first decision, the employer had deducted from the salesperson’s commissions amounts corresponding to the (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Sales representative : The French Judiciary Supreme Court states that in the real estate sector, the minimal compensation of a sales representative requires that the latter operate primarily for the employer (Bram immobilier)

196

In three decisions concerning the real estate sector, multi-card sales representatives requested the requalification of their part-time employment contract into a full-time employment contract, in order to benefit from the remuneration at least equal to the minimum gross salary (corresponding (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Trade intermediary : The French Judiciary Supreme Court holds that some conditions of a distributor’s activity may reveal the existence of a legal subordination and thus an employment contract (M. X./Languedoc géothermie)

195

The reclassification of distribution contracts as employment contracts is a major source of litigation, particularly because of the permeability of the boundaries between distribution law and employment law. Various reasons can be invoked: in general: the difficulties encountered by (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Commercial agency : The Douai Court of Appeals imputes the breach of a commercial agency contract to the principal who substantially modified the terms (Saretco/M. O.)

195

The Douai Court of Appeal ruled that the principal takes the initiative to terminate the contract by imposing on the commercial agent substantial modifications of the contract with a reduction of his geographical area, an increase in his objectives "under penalty of termination of the contract" (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Commercial agency : The Colmar Court of Appeals refuses to characterize as commercial agent an employee who has no authority to enter into contracts in the name and on behalf of the superior (Novacid/PPC)

188

The Colmar Court of Appeal, considering not only the "contractual terms" but also the conditions under which "the activity[ was] actually carried out", denied the status of commercial agent to a "provider of services in commercial matters" who merely transmitted orders "without ever being able (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Commercial agency : The French Judiciary Supreme Court recalls that the principal has to prove the extinction of the agent’s right to commissions (Libentia/Free)

223

The commercial agency contract is not only a source of litigation at the time of its termination (on this very extensive litigation, see our obs. in previous columns), but its execution is more rarely denounced. The case judged by the Court of Cassation in a decision - published in the Bulletin (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Commercial agency : The Paris Court of Appeals qualifies as serious misconduct the sale of competing products without the principal’s former agreement (MPF Diffusion/BLD France)

188

A principal, having discovered that his commercial agent was selling, without his consent, trademarks competing with his own, had terminated the contract for serious misconduct, claiming a violation of Art. L. 134-3 of the Code of Civil Procedure, which requires the agent to obtain the prior (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Sales representative : The French Judiciary Supreme Court reminds that a contract cannot stipulate a trial period if the employee’s professional capacities were already assessed (Le Pilori)

190

The Court of Cassation ruled that "a probationary period could not be validly stipulated" in the sales representative’s contract concluded as an extension of a commercial agency contract when the employee’s duties had remained unchanged and he had performed them for several years so that the (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Commercial agents : The French Supreme Court sets aside the Paris Court of Appeals for having qualified an intermediary authorized to grant "gifts" to clients representing a financial advantage as commercial agent (Covidien)

243

Cass. com, 20 Jan. 2015, Covidien, No. 13-24.231 Could it not be considered that the person who - prior to any discussion of the terms of the contract - discusses with the prospect the very principle of the conclusion of the contract and has "levers" such as the offer of benefits in kind at (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Commercial agency : The French Judiciary Supreme Court approves the Agen Court of Appeals’s decision considering that a company that benefited from a partial transfer of assets operated by a former commercial agency cannot act against the principal for compensation of a damage incurred by the agency due to the breach (Roland Château/Voa Verrerie d’Albi)

168

A principal, having breached a commercial agency contract, had been sued for damages by the agent company before the latter transferred its trading activity to another company as part of a partial asset contribution. The company receiving the contribution had then wanted to pursue the action (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Sales representative : The French Supreme Court recalls that the sales representative status can be agreed upon contractually although the textual conditions are not fulfilled and that it is up to trial courts to appreciate whether the dismissal cause is real and serious (Mme X., EDI 40)

196

Cass. soc. 14 Jan. 2015, Ms X. c/ EDI 40, No. 13-14.752 The Court of Cassation criticised the Pau Court of Appeal for having excluded the qualification of VRP on the basis of a clause in the employment contract authorising the employer to change the geographical sector, "whereas [the] (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Sales representative : The French Supreme Court repeats that work-related costs incurred by a sales representative must be covered by the employer (Mme X., NCH France)

196

Cass. soc., 14 Jan. 2015, Mrs X. v. NCH France, No. 13-16.229 The Paris Court of Appeal had dismissed a sales representative’s request for termination of the contract against the employer, pointing out that it was up to "the sales representative to justify the expenses incurred in the course of (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Commercial agents : The Amiens Court of Appeals considers that the principal is to inform the agent of all commands taken from clients for whom he was previously commissioned (Alain F., Thierry B.)

188

CA Amiens, 18 Dec. 2014, Alain F. c/ Thierry B., RG n° 11/00490 Recalling that "the relationship between the commercial agent and the principal shall, in accordance with the provisions of Article L. 134-4 of the Commercial Code, governed by a duty of loyalty and a reciprocal obligation to (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Commercial agents : The French Supreme Court approves of the Colmar Court of Appeals’ refusing to grant to the commercial agent, in addition of the termination compensation, an extra compensation due to the principal’s denial of agreement of the successor (HCF)

226

Cass. com. Dec. 9, 2014, HCF, No. 13-23.309 The termination indemnity necessarily takes into account the loss of the right of presentation of a successor as a result of the non-transmission of the contract. The commercial agent only loses his right to compensation for termination of contract (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Commercial agents : The French Supreme Court considers as serious misconduct the lack of implication of the agent and condamns the latter to compensate the damage to image and notoriety caused to the principal (CCCP, SRC)

198

Cass. com, Dec. 9, 2014, CCCP c/ SRC, No. 13-28.170 and 13-28.171 The Court of Cassation agrees with the Paris Court of Appeal that the fact of having qualified as serious misconduct making it impossible to maintain contractual relations and excluding any indemnity, the fact of : manifest "a (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Commercial agents : The Caen Court of Appeals considers as serious misconduct the commercial agent’s failure to inform the principal that the company’s manager works simultaneously for a competitor as a sales representative (Jean-Pierre V., Patrick B.)

193

CA Caen, Dec. 4, 2014, Jean-Pierre V. c/ Patrick B., RG n° 13/02063 The Caen Court of Appeal ruled that the manager of a commercial agent company, who represents a competitor of the principal in his capacity as a sales representative without having informed the latter, commits "a serious breach (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Requalification: The French Supeme Court approves the Agen Court of Appeals for having requalified an employee in sales representative, due to client meetings scheduled by the employer (M. X. / K par K)

182

The Court of Cassation approved the Court of Appeal of Agen for refusing to reclassify a sales representative contract as a contract of employment, since "the employee performed the function of representative on behalf of his employer in a specific sector of activity and the essential part of (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Commercial agents : The French Supreme Court defines the notion of common interest mandate and the conditions of its breach (M. X., La Montagne ; ACE, Duravit)

236

Cass. com, Nov. 25, 2014, M. X. v. La Montagne, No. 13-25.266->doc27378]; Cass. com, Dec. 9, 2014, ACE v. Duravit, No. 13-22.476 In a first case, a press trustee sued by a broadcaster for damages for wrongful termination of a mandate of common interest challenged, first, the classification of (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Imputability of the termination : The French Supreme Court blames the Rennes Court of Appeals for having imputed the termination of the commercial agency contract to the principal, although no substantial change in the conditions of execution of the contract was established (Geoxia Ouest, SMC)

165

The Court of Cassation censured the Rennes Court of Appeal for having imputed the breach of a commercial agency contract to the principal on the grounds that he had substantially modified the conditions of performance of the contract by preventing the agent from maintaining contact with (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Commercial agent: The Colmar Court of Appeals refuses to qualify as commercial agent an intermediaite who wasn’t entitled with the power to negotiate and conclude contracts (M. X / Hock)

197

An intermediary, whose task was to present and promote a company’s products, without being able to conclude a contract on behalf of the company or to change the terms and conditions of sale set by the company, claimed the status of commercial agent. In order to assert that it had bargaining (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Customers database : The Angers Court of Appeals refuses to qualify as sales representative a distributor who only uses the customers database created by his employer and directly relays the orders of the clients (Royal Canin France)

202

The qualification of sales representative is frequently sought by agent distributors, in particular commercial agents, seeking, upon termination of the relationship, the benefit of an even more protective status (see for example CA Bourges, 14 March 2014, RG n° 13/01121, M. S. c/ Immobilier des (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Requalification : The French Supreme Court approves of the Poitiers and Bourges Courts of Appeals for having requalified sales representatives’ contracts in employment contracts (SICO)

216

Cass. soc., 21 October 2014, Mr X. v. Sico, Appeal No. 13-11.929 S.C.C., 21 October 2014, Ms Y. v. Sico, Appeal No. 13-11.150 The Court of Cassation approved the Courts of Appeal of Poitiers and Bourges for having requalified as employment contracts "sales representative contracts under the (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Compensation of the agent: The French Supreme Court reminds that the article L. 134-6 of the French Code of Commerce, which is related to the compensation of the agent, is not part of public policy (Arcade)

183

A principal refused to pay commissions to its commercial agent responsible for finding building sites and supervising their execution on the basis of the clause in the contract by which, in the event of termination of the contract during the agent’s intervention, the latter could ’in no case (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Severance pay : The French Supreme Court reminds that the provision related to the agent’s severance pay makes part of public policy provisions, and that the notification of the agent’s intent to assert his right to severance pay does not need to be formal (Shipping Agency Service / Seatrade)

156

A principal had terminated his commercial agency contract with a company and entrusted the assignment to a former employee of the company who had set up his own structure. The company had then assigned him in payment of severance pay. In order to avoid this payment, the principal invoked the (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Sales representative : The Dijon Court of Appeals declares null and void a post-contractual non-competition clause with paltry financial counterpart and orders compensation for the damage suffered (Laboratoires ACI, Lionel G.)

224

CA Dijon, Oct. 16, 2014, Laboratoires ACI c/ Lionel G., RG n° 13/00607 One sales representative contract stipulated a post-contractual non-competition clause, the financial compensation for which was set at ’one-sixth of the monthly remuneration’, and the breach was punished for each infringement (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Imputability of the termination : The Paris Court of Appeals considers that the termination of the contract cannot be imputed to the agent if the latter’s decision to end the contract is due to a substanial change in the terms of compensation (M. S. / Cafpi)

176

The Paris Court of Appeal awarded an agent a termination indemnity after considering that the termination was not attributable to him, its decision to terminate the contract being "justified by the substantial changes in the terms of remuneration imposed by his principal" (abolition of certain (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Serious misconduct : The French Supreme Court rules that the loss of severance pay due to the agent’s serious misconduct does not exclude his condemnation for other damage caused to the principal (Mme Y., M. X.)

151

The Court of Cassation points out that "regardless of the loss of his right to a termination indemnity when he has committed a serious fault, the commercial agent is liable for any fault he may have committed towards his principal".

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Non-competition clause : The French Supreme Court confirms the invalidity of a disproportional post-contractual non-competition clause (Blue Line & Bro)

380

A commercial agent who had been hired by a company competing with that of his former principal was accused by the latter of breaching the post-contractual non-competition undertaking prohibiting him from "carrying on the same professional activity for two years from the date of termination". (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Franchise : The Paris Court of Appeals sentences for unfair competition a franchisee who stated in an online-directory that he delivered to customers located in the exclusive territory of an other franchisee (Epgi, Liberesto)

211

The growth of online sales is not only accompanied by an increase in disputes between suppliers and distributors, in the field of competition law (anti-competitive practices and unfair competition) and contract law (for a recent case illustrating this second hypothesis, see in the field of (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Online sale : The Bordeaux Court of Appeals states that the principal who sales his products online does not prevent the exclusive commercial agent to fulfill his mandate (Editions Atlas)

181

The growth of online sales is accompanied by a rise in disputes between suppliers and distributors. These are frequently dealt with from the point of view of competition law: that it protects the market (law on anti-competitive practices): competition authorities consider that limitations on (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Competing products : The French Supreme Court approves of the Besançon Court of Appeals having excluded the serious misconduct of a salesman who sold competitive products without being previously informed by his employer about his representation obligations (Kara)

83

A company had dismissed a sales representative for serious misconduct on the grounds that he had unknowingly accepted the representation of competing products. The Court of Cassation approved the Besançon Court of Appeal for having ruled out any serious fault making it impossible for the (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Salesman - Dismissal: The French Supreme Court recalls that a dismissed salesman is entitled to a customer compensation at least equal to the legal dismissal indemity (Henitex)

272

A terminated sales representative to whom the judges had awarded a client allowance complained that the judges had not taken into account the fact that, since the claim for termination pay was necessarily included in the client allowance claim, the higher of the two allowances should be (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Commercial agency : The Agen Court of Appeals refuses to grant a commercial agent a termination allowance different from the one contractually agreed (Méditerranéenne de courtage)

114

The question of indemnification of the agent feeds into the dispute over the termination of the commercial agency contract, at least in the field of the agent’s right to compensation for damage arising from the loss of the right to prospect the principal’s clientele and to profit from it (art. L. (...)

Blanche de La Mure, Dominique Ferré Competing products : The Paris Court of Appeals considers that an agent who sold products competing with those of his mandate did not commit serious misconduct justifying a loss of right to the indemnity for the termination of the agreement (Toyoda)

121

A principal who had terminated a commercial agency contract refused to compensate the agent for gross negligence in selling competing products in breach of the non-competition obligation in the contract. The agent had then summoned him to pay an indemnity for termination of contract. The Paris (...)

Blanche de La Mure 35.Anticompetitive agreement: The Council of State confirms the opinions of the French NCA on competitive operation are not subject to appeal (Comité des constructeurs français d’automobiles, Chambre syndicale internationale de l’automobile et du motocycle et Conseil national des professions de l’automobile)

94

EC, 17 July 2013, Comité des constructeurs français d’automobiles, International Automobile and Motorcycle Trade Union Chamber and Conseil national des professions de l’automobile, n° 360100 The Conseil d’Etat has received an application for annulment on the grounds of excess of power of the opinion (...)

Blanche de La Mure Anticompetitive agreements: The Paris Court of Appeal applies the criteria established by the Supreme Court in order to characterize an appreciable effect on trade between Member States (Digicel Antilles françaises Guyane, France télécom and Orange Caraïbe/Outremer Télécom)

123

CA Paris, 04.07.2013, Digicel Antilles françaises Guyane, France télécom and Orange Caraïbe / Outremer Télécom, RG n° 2012/05160 By decision 09-D-36 of 9 December 2009, the Competition Authority had heavily sanctioned the incumbent telephone operator and one of its subsidiaries for cartel practices (...)

Blanche de La Mure Agreement : The Paris Court of Appeal applies the test "multi-criteria" recommended by the Supreme Court to verify the sensitive affectation of the European competition (Shell, Total Réunion, Esso, ea./Air France

119

CA Paris, March 28, 2013, Shell, Total Réunion, Esso, ea. / Air France (so-called "jet fuel" case), RG n° 2011/13245 Four oil companies which supplied jet fuel to the airlines serving Reunion airport shared the market in a tender organised by Air France. On 1 March 2010, in the so-called "jet (...)

Blanche de La Mure Distribution: The Cour de cassation rules on the conditions under which the right to withdraw can be exerciced on a terminantion indemnity sold at derisory prices (GPG)

85

A commercial agent had summoned his principal in payment of a termination indemnity. In the course of the proceedings, the commercial agent had assigned his claims to a third company for an aggregate price of one euro. Assigned in payment of these claims, the principal exercised its right of (...)

Blanche de La Mure Hidden defect : The French Supreme Court recalls that the admissibility of the action for damages caused by a hidden defect is not subordinated to a claim for reduction of the purchase price or a claim to rescind the Contract (R./Mr. Y)

69

Cass. com, 19.06.2012, Rambaud v. Mr. Y and Aviva, no. 11-13-176, During the execution of a public contract, a company had acquired a set of equipment for the production of bitumen products. As anomalies had been noted from the start of the construction work, the purchaser had summoned the (...)

Blanche de La Mure Surety: The Paris Court of Appeal holds that a surety agreement is null and void on the ground that the contract which was designated in the agreement did not exist anymore the day the surety agreement was sign, the signature of a new contract implying the novation intention of the parties (FCE Bank/BNP Paribas)

78

CA Paris, March 27, 2012, FCE Bank PLC v/ BNP Paribas, RG n° 2010/08937, A car manufacturer was claiming from a bank, as part of its guarantee commitment, the payment of sums owed by a defaulting dealer. A court of appeal declared the guarantee deed granted in 1998 null and void because it (...)

Blanche de La Mure Invitation to tender : The General Court rejects the notion of a second offense of a head-firm if it has not been imputed previous infringements of its subsidiaries and requests that the European Commission justifies the existence of a unique firm according to article 101 TFEU with circumstantial and specific elements (ThyssenKrupp & Eni)

138

Trib. EU, 13 July 2011, ThyssenKrupp, T-144/07, T-148/07, T-149/07, T-150/07 and T-154/07 Trib. EU, 13 July 2011, Eni , T-39/07 In the first case, several subsidiaries of a company operating in the lift sector which had entered into agreements with other companies in that sector had been (...)

Blanche de La Mure Invitation to tender : The Court of Cassation holds that the competence of the Administrative Judge to appreciate the legality of an administrative act does not obstruct the competence of the Competition Authority to examine anticompetitive practices carried out by firms on the occasion of their answers to the invitation to tender (SNCM)

279

> Cass. com, 21.06.2011, SNCM, n° 10-15.754 The Corsican regional authority had instructed the Corsican Transport Office (OTC) to issue an invitation to tender for the renewal of the public service delegation for maritime services to the island from Marseilles. Four tenders had been (...)

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