The new consumer law (Act Hamon) was finally adopted by the National Assembly on 13 February 2014 and was promulgated on 17 March 2014. This new law has important implications for business life, especially in terms distribution agreements.
In France, in accordance with Article L. 441-7 of the Commercial Code, suppliers and distributors involved in sustainable business relationship must sign an annual agreement annual distribution laying down specific conditions and arrangements for providing products for the year concerned and, where appropriate, the services rendered by each party in connection with the distribution of these products.
The annual convention, which can be either a single contract or an annual framework agreement implemented by several simple sales contracts must be concluded before March 1 of each year or within two months after the start of the period marketing of products or services subject to a particular cycle of marketing.
The new Consumer Protection Act amends the rules regarding the content of the annual agreement and sets strict rules at the negotiation.
Under the new provisions, laid down in Article L. 441-7, paragraph 7 of the Commercial Code, the supplier must communicate its general conditions of sale to the distributor at least three months before the deadline of March 1 (c ' is to say November 30) or for goods or services subject to a particular cycle of marketing, two months before the start of the marketing period. In addition, the price agreed between the parties apply at the latest on March 1, and all the clauses in the agreement can only enter into force no earlier or subsequent to the effective date of the agreed price. The new schedule, imposed by law, aims to put an end to a practice whereby certain clauses of the contract are applied retroactively to January 1, regarding the commercial terms negotiated for as discounts for example, while well as the new distributor price was taken into account as of the date of signature of the Convention.
Also note that now, under the new Article L. 441-7 1 of the Commercial Code, the price reductions on the standard prices of the supplier must be explicitly stated in the annual convention. It aims to put an end to practices implemented by some distributors to lighten the content of the agreement or to integrate such discounts granted by the supplier in the unit price of products, while they should be made clear in the Convention .
The new Article L. 441-7 1 also provides the conditions under which the supplier would undertake to grant to consumers during the year, promotional benefits of its products or services have been established under agency contracts entrusted to the dealer or service provider. This new provision also states that these contracts mandate states, including the amount, nature, the period in which these promotional arrangements and accountability by the distributor to the supplier benefits.
A new Article L. 441-8 of the Commercial Code is also added, and now specifies that contracts with a duration greater than three months are the sale of food and agricultural commodities execution should include a clause on terms of renegotiation of the price to take into account fluctuations, whether upward or downward, the prices of these items. This new mandatory clause should specify the conditions that trigger the renegotiation and must refer to one or more public price indices of agricultural and food products. This negotiation must be conducted in good faith in accordance with the secret in industrial and commercial matters and secrets, within a period exceeding two months have.
It should also be noted that the violation of these Articles L. 441-7 and L. 441-8 of the Commercial Code is now punished by a fine of not exceeding EUR 75 000 for an individual and Euro 375,000 for a corporation, this amount may be doubled in case of repetition of offense within two years from the date of the first sanction becomes final.