COMPETITION • FRENCH LAW • RESTRICTIVE PRACTICES
As the effectiveness of the sanctioning of abuse of economic dependence based on anticompetitive practices had shown itself to be limited, in order to restore the balance of commercial negotiations between distributors and suppliers, the legislator created cases of abuse of dependence which are automatically prohibited without the need to establish a restrictive effect on the market. The abuse of dependence generally covers the abuse of power by an operator with respect to its economic partner. Article L. 442-1 (former art. L. 442-6) of the Commercial Code defined thirteen cases of abuse of dependence, which may give rise to the imposition of a civil fine, such as unfair terms between professionals or the sudden termination of established commercial relationships. The Ordinance of 24 April 2019 has reorganized the provision to identify only those cases that have been the subject of real judicial enforcement. It now retains only two umbrella practices, which are “advantages without consideration or [which are] manifestly disproportionate” (new Art. L. 442-1, I, 1°) and significant imbalance (new Art. L. 442-1, I, 2°), and the more specific practice of sudden termination of established commercial relationships (new Art. L. 442-1, II).