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Advice from Pro to Pro

General terms and conditions of sale, an effective tool against unpaid bills

The general conditions of sale, although imposed by the Commercial Code, are often underestimated by professionals in their commercial relations. However, they provide effective protection against late payments and unpaid invoices.

The general terms and conditions of sale, a legal obligation.

In accordance with the provisions of Art. L441-1 of the Commercial Code “Any producer, service provider, wholesaler or importer is required to communicate its general conditions of sale to any purchaser of products or any applicant for services who requests them for a professional activity”. This is a legal obligation, and failure to comply with it can cost you dearly (administrative fine of up to €15,000).

Adapted general sales conditions, a tool to secure your turnover.

Personalized general terms and conditions of sale adapted to your company are an effective weapon to secure your commercial relations.

The T&Cs must specify at least:

  • the conditions of sale,
  • the price list,
  • discounts and payment terms.

In order for your GTC to protect your business and strengthen your rights, you must introduce other clauses, which are essential to safeguard your interests and avoid unnecessary costs that could jeopardize your business, especially in the event of late payment or even non-payment of your invoices:

  • penalty clause,
  • retention of title clause,
  • jurisdiction clause,
  • limitation of liability clause,
  • force majeure,
  • delivery time,
  • deadline for filing a challenge

Your company is unique, so are your terms and conditions

The clauses in your GTC must be specific to your company, its size, its sector of activity. Avoid “ready-made” clauses, copied from your competitors or suppliers, which can be ineffective and even embarrassing.

The general sales conditions, a shield against late payments.

If properly formulated, T&Cs can discourage your customers from paying late invoices. For example, by providing for significant damages.

The GTC can also facilitate the collection of unpaid invoices (for example thanks to the retention of title clause), or reduce the cost of legal proceedings (if you choose the competent court near your headquarters).

Communicating your terms and conditions is a sign of your transparency in your commercial relations. Clear and precise general terms and conditions of sale are a real guarantee of the seriousness of your company but also the brake for your customers to assert possible contestations in the future.

The general conditions of sale must be updated regularly.

Be careful! Are your terms and conditions well written and systematically communicated? That’s not nearly enough! Your business is growing, your activities are diversifying, the number of your customers is increasing, the legislation is changing… Your general terms and conditions of sale must evolve at the same pace as your business. Review them frequently, take stock with your teams so as not to miss updates that may be crucial to the life of your company!

Need help with your T&Cs? Are your T&Cs up to date? We can help you!

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