ARTICLE : FRENCH ECONOMIC MODERNISATION ACT- TRADE NEGOTIATIONS - TRADE RELATIONS - NEGOTIABILITY - PER SE PROHIBITION - DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICES - OFFENCES - SANCTIONS - ART. L. 442-6 - FLEXIBILITY - DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICES

The Economic Modernisation Act: An other step in the endless regulation of trade negociations in France

The Law on the Modernization of the Economy (“LME”) was passed on July 23rd, 2008. It provides for numerous provisions. Some of them amend French legislation applicable to trade negotiations between suppliers and distributors. LME was presented as the last step of the reform of legislation in terms of trade relations between suppliers and distributors. This reform concerns several essential points. It now authorizes the negotiability of the general terms and conditions of sale of suppliers, cancels the per se prohibition of discriminatory practices and modifies the rules relating to contractual formalities of trade negotiations. Finally, it strictly governs the terms of payment and modifies the list of offences and sanctions provided for in article L. 442-6 of the French Commercial Code. This new reform brings more flexibility, in particular by allowing distributors to directly negotiate the terms and conditions of sale and prices of suppliers, without taking any risks on the account of the prohibition of discriminatory practices. However, the formality rules remain important and sentenced from a criminal viewpoint. In this respect, we note that the simplification target of LME is not totally reached. In addition, LME introduces safeguards, in particular by reducing payment terms.

1. Après des mois de discussions entre les défenseurs du petit commerce, ceux des fournisseurs, des PME et de la grande distribution, la Loi de modernisation de l'économie dite “LME”, a finalement été votée le 23 juillet 2007. Ce texte constitue la seconde et dernière étape de la réforme de la législation, concernant les relations entre fournisseurs et distributeurs. On se souvient que cette réforme, annoncée comme fondamentale avait été entamée par la loi dite “Chatel” n° 2008-3 du 3 janvier 2008 et dans une moindre mesure par la loi Dutreil n° 2005-882 du 2 août 2005. 2. Bien évidemment et fort heureusement, les 173 articles de ce texte ambitieux ne sont pas tous consacrés aux relations entre fournisseurs et distributeurs, mais visent plus globalement, le développement de la croissance et la libération

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Léna Sersiron, Mireille Dany, The Economic Modernisation Act: An other step in the endless regulation of trade negociations in France, September 2008, Concurrences Review N° 3-2008, Art. N° 20366, www.concurrences.com

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