Penalties in case of non-respect of payment terms in France
As from 1 January 2009, penalties are introduced in
France in case of non-respect of certain maximal payment terms (fixed by the
article L 441-6, subparagraph 9 of the French Code de Commerce).
This law is applicable for all contracts concluded
after 1 January 2009, for all orders set after this date in case of framework agreements,
and for all tacitly extended contracts.
The law implies that each manufacturer, service
provider, wholesaler or importer must communicate its terms and conditions to
each of its contract parties.
They have to respect the following payment terms:
If nothing is specified or
agreed, the payment term of the amounts due is fixed at 30 days after receipt
of the goods or the execution of the services.
This payment term (30 days) can be fined with a
penalty of up to 15.000 €.
If the contract (general
terms) specifies another payment term it may not exceed 45 days after the end
of the month or 60 days from the date of issuance of the invoice.
If these payment terms are not respected, it may be
sanctioned with interests and damages including civil penalties of up to 2
millions of Euros.
Approximately 40 sectors have the approval from the
French government to introduce such payment terms as set forth by the law step
by step and not necessarily on 1 January 2009. But, these sectors have to
introduce the new payment terms at the latest in 2012.
The list of these sectors can be consulted on the
following website of the DG of competition, and consumer problematics (DGCCRF)
of the French Department of Economy, industry and employment:
On this website it is possible to verify, sector by
sector, whether the company, to which a payment must be made, or from which a
payment has to be received, can make use of the government approval, and to
This law is very important for all enterprises including
enterprises located abroad that have a commercial relationship with a French enterprise.
Indeed, this law is also applicable if either the supplier or the buyer is
situated outside of France.