Anyone who abruptly breaks off an established business relationship becomes liable for heavy damages. What about the existence of a lasting relationship when economic ups and downs are apparent? - Court of Cassation, Commercial Chamber, 13 November 2013, No. 12-25.361 SNC Le joint français c/ SARL Multimodal transport, logistique et services (MTLS)
Since 2006, and by a series of contracts, a manufacturer of spare parts for the automotive industry entrusts a carries with its deliveries. After a gradual decline in its volume of customer orders, the manufacturer terminates the collaboration with its carrier. The carrier retaliates with a summons for abrupt termination of an established business relationship.
The Paris Court of Appeal granted this request, holding that "a series of one-off contracts is sufficient to characterise the established relationship when it is significant, stable and sustainable". Given that the carrier's accounting records show a substantial increase in sales and the development of orders, the Court considers that a sustainable relationship has been established. Moreover, the manufacturer had recognised the existence of a regular monthly flow of business.
However, this decision was censured by the Court of Cassation for one main reason: insecurity.
Indeed, for the High court, the relationship was not established because it was marked by insecurity and was not of a continuous, stable and habitual nature, such that it would allow the victim of the termination to reasonably anticipate a certain continuity of future business with its commercial partner.
The variability of the orders thus allows us to assess the existence of an established commercial relationship.