The French Gayssot law protects the subcontractors of the road transport and logistics sector against unpaid bills. However, in this sector there are numerous players and the supply chain is rather complex, it is therefore not always easy for a transportation company to know exactly when and how to engage the debt collection actions. The difficulty lies on one hand on the identification of the parties against whom to start a collection action, and on the other hand, in the rapid implementation of this action.
Gayssot law: what does it say?
Article L.132-8 of the French Commercial Code :
« The bill of lading forms a contract between the sender, the carrier and the addressee (1) or between the sender, the receiver, the agent and the carrier (2). The carrier has a direct action in payment of its benefits against the shipper and the recipient, who are responsible for the payment of the price of transport. Any contrary clause is deemed unwritten. »
(1) – this is the simplest case, with only 3 responders to the operation
(2) – these are the most complex cases in which the sender, the principal, has contracted with a commissionaire who subcontracts the transport operation to a third party.
Transport and logistics debt collection: against whom and when ?
- Direct receivables collection action of the carrier may be directed only against the shipper or the receiver.
« Shipper and receiver are the guarantors of the transport price payment. » It is therefore necessary to identify the parties to the transport contract in order to be able to initiate an effective debt collection action.
- Deadline: one year from the delivery date of the goods to the receiver is the time limit to act.
The time limit for recovering a transportation claim is one year from the delivery date, not the date of the invoice. After this time, the action will be prescribed.
This very short time implies a high level of responsiveness in the collection process (amicable collection, notice to pay, order to pay).
Acting quickly will also limit the risks associated with a possible insolvency procedure of one of the parties (shipper or customer): in the case of insolvency proceedings of the originator or the addressee, the fact that the claim will be lodged will unfortunately not interrupt the time limit.
- What are the consequences for the shipper or receiver operated by the carrier?
The sender may be forced to pay the service twice:
- He has already paid the commissionaire,
- He is forced to settle the carrier under the direct action "Gayssot law".
In this case, the sender may appeal against the commissionaire.
International transportation debt collection: does the Gayssot law apply?
To benefit from the direct action in payment, the French law must apply.
In theory, there are rules of connection to the French law. These are the conflict-of-laws rules.
- Transportation France / EU countries
In the European Union, the so-called "Rome I" law applicable to contractual obligations (or for contracts concluded after 17th December 2009, Regulation (EC) No 593/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008) determines whether French law and the powerful guarantee it offers the carrier is applicable to a given situation.
- Transportation France / Non EU countries
The benefits provided to carriers by the "GAYSSOT law" have no equivalent in the Geneva Convention of 19th May 1956, relating to the contract for the international carriage of goods by road, known as "CMR", which regulates most types of international road transport.
Consequently, the carrier who wants to recover his debt will have to sue the shipper or the recipient to find attachments to the French courts (place of the carrier head office, loading and or delivery place ...)
As you can see, in practice a lot of difficulties and additional costs can appear during the recovery process.
Debt collection outsourcing: for what purpose?
To preserve your commercial relations with your clients and avoid the additional risks of too long and costly procedures, you can entrust your recovery actions to a partner who knows how to:
- Collect your receivables quickly through the amicable way, in France or anywhere in the world where your clients sit
- In case of required legal proceedings, you can therefore have a solid support to
- Lead the legal procedure, end-to-end
- Select and manage the best judicial partners (lawyers, bailiffs) for a optimized efficiency and costs
To learn more, discover our article: International debt collection, 3 keys to optimize your cash collection abroad. You can also contact our collection company.