FRANCE: an interesting case law on abrupt termination of a commercial relationship.

Didier FERRIER | FRANCE | 2012-06-18


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Considering itself the victim of an abrupt termination of a commercial relationship, a distributor brought an action against its German supplier before a French court. In defense, the supplier pointed to a clause in its general conditions of sale, written on the back of its invoices, which attributed jurisdiction to the German courts ‘for any disputes arising from contractual relations.’

The French Supreme Court has upheld an appellate court’s decision in favor of applying the clause, noting that: (i) ‘even though [the distributor] may never have signed any document containing this choice of jurisdiction clause, it is sufficiently established that [the distributor] accepted it by recurrently paying the invoices on the back of which the general conditions of sale were printed’; and (ii) ‘this clause is sufficiently broad and comprehensive to be applied [to disputes] arising from an abrupt termination of established commercial relations between the parties, it being of little importance whether the liability incurred in this regard is grounded in contract or tort.’

Didier Ferrier, agency, distribution and franchising Country Expert for France.

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