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Introduction to French and European Business Law

Pr. D. Mainguy

Table of contents (Version 2, subject to change)

Syllabus I (chap. 1 to 4) this syllabus is provided for free but under copyright, some parts are not treated in class

Syllabus II French Business Contract Law : this syllabus is provided for free but under copyright

Both syllabuses are relevant to the final test. FInal test wil be either a Multiple choise questions (10 to 20 questions), or a general question : you will choose the one or the other.


Chapter 1 Introduction to French Business law

Section 1 The origins of commercial law

Section 2. The foundation of French commercial law

Section 3. The transformation of commercial law

§1. New commercial rules

§2. New borders of business laws

Chapter 2. Introduction to European Business law

Section 1 The choice of an internal market

Section 2 A market to be completed

Section 3 Organisation of European business law

A. Freedoms regarding the States

B. Freedom of competition

C. Institutions

Applicable Texts for Chapter 2

Chapter 3 Sources of Commercial Law

Section 1 Rules of statutory origin 

Section 2 Rules of private origin


            Applicable Texts and Cases for Chapter 3


Chapter 4 Basics on Commercial aw

Section 1 Actes de commerce, commercial acts

§ 1. Commercial acts by nature or purpose and commercial activity

A Buying for resale

B Intermediary operations

C Undertakings

1 - Furniture rental undertakings

2 - Manufacturing, commission, land or water transport undertakings

3 - Supply undertakings, agencies, business offices, auction houses and public performances

§ 2. Commercial acts by form

A The bill of exchange

B Commercial companies by form

§ 3. Incidental (or accessory) commercial acts

A The objective accessory

B The subjective accessory

C The commercial guarantees

§ 4. Actes mixtes mixed acts

Section 2: The regime of the commercial act

(non treated on class) § 1. The specificities of the commercial act

A The birth of the commercial obligation

B Performance and non-performance of the commercial commitment           

§ 2. Commercial justice

Section 3 The trader and commercial activity

§ 1. The exercise of commercial acts as a criterion of commerciality

A The definition of a trader

B. Intermediaries

§ 2. Commerciality criteria

A Speculation: a criterion of commerciality

B The circulation of wealth

C The undertaking as a criterion of commerciality     

Section 4 : Access to commercial professions

§ 1 Freedom of trade and industry  

§ 2 Limitations related to the person

A. Incapacities in the civil law sense of the term

B. Incompatibilities, prohibitions and disqualifications     

C. The foreign trader

§ 3 Limitations related to the activity         

A. Professional qualification requirement: Article 16 of the Act of 5 July 1996

B. Itinerant commercial and craft activities

Section 5: Traders' obligations (non treated on class)

§ 1 Legal publicity    

§ 2 Accounting obligations  

§ 3 Other obligations of the trader  

Section 6 Interference between the professional status and the private status of the trader (non treated on class)

§ 1 The impact of matrimonial status on the exercise of trade

§ 2 Heritage impacts

Section 7 « Fonds de commerce»: concepts and elements

§ 1. The concept of «fonds de commerce»

A The clientèle (customers) and the «fonds de commerce»

B The legal nature of «fonds de commerce»

§ 2. The elements of the «fonds de commerce»

A Tangible items

B Intangible elements other than the commercial lease

§ 3: Commercial Lease and Commercial Property

A The conditions of application of the status of commercial leases

B Performance of the lease

C Renewal of the lease

§ 4 Transactions on the «fonds de commerce»

A. transactions involving the transfer of fonds de commerce

B The lease of the fonds de commerce (location gérance)

C Guarantees in the fonds de commerce


Chapter 5 Commercial contracts: distribution operations and competition rules involved

Section 1 - Concept of contract     

I. Definition of contract        

II - General rules (principes directeurs)

A - Freedom of contract (liberté contractuelle)

B - Binding effect of contract (force obligatoire du contrat)

C - Good faith (bonne foi)

Ill - Classifications of contracts

A - Nominate and innominate contracts (contrats nommés et innommés)

B - Classifications based on the obligation contracted

1 - Distinction between a bilateral contract (synallagmatic contract) and a unilateral contract

2 - Distinction between an onerous contract and a gratuitous contract

3 - Distinction between a commutative contract and an aleatory contract

C - Classifications based on the way a contract has been concluded

1. Distinction between consensual, solemn and real contracts

2 - Distinction between contract by direct agreement and standard-form contract

D - Distinction based on the way a contract is performed

1 - Distinction between contract of instantaneous performance and contract of successive performance

2 - Distinction between framework contract and implementation contract

Section 2 - Formation of a contract

I – Conditions of the formation

1. Pre-contractual negotiations

2. –Negotiation agreements and preparatory agreements (contrats préparatoires)

a. Negotiation agreements

b - Preference pact (pacte de préférence)

c - Unilateral promise of contract

B - The traditional offer and acceptance model

1 - Offer

a - Conditions of validity

b - Termination of an offer

2 - Acceptance

a - General rules

b - Silence

II - Conditions of a valid agreement

A - Absence of defects of consent (vices du consentement), integrity of consent

1. Mistake (erreur)

2 – Fraud (dol)

3 - Duress

B - Capacity and representation

1 - Capacity

2 - Representation

C - Contractual content (contenu du contrat)

1.  The object of an obligation : the prestation

a. The prestation

b. Determination of the prestation

i. Determination of the subject-matter on general.

ii. Determination of price in framework distribution contracts.

iii. Determination of the price of contracts for services.

2. Legality (licéité) of the content

3 - Contractual balance or unbalance

a) Consistency of consideration

b) Deprive of the essential obligation

c) Significant imbalance
d) Lesion (economic harm)

e) Other provisions in business law

D. Forms

§ 3 Sanctions : nullity of invalid contract

Section 4 Perfomance of Business contracts

§ 1 Perfomance between parties

A. Principles

B Good faith on perfomance

C Hardship

§ 2 (Non) Performance regarding to third parties

§3 Remedies to non performance

Section 5 Termination of Business contract

§ 1 Causes of termination

§ 2 Effects of termination


Chapter 6 Arbitration law (éléments and key points on actuallity)



Code civil (FR link to www.legifrance.gouv.fr)

Code de commerce (FR link to www.legifrance.gouv.fr)

Code monétaire et financier (FR link to www.legifrance.gouv.fr)

The Law of Contract, the general regime of Obligations, and Proof of  Obligations (ENG Ordonnance 10 févr. 2016, in French Civil Code)

French Commercial Code Table of contents

Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (FR-ENG)

Treaty on the European Union (TEU, complete)

Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU, complete)

Council Regulation (EU) No 833/2014 of 31 July 2014 concerning restrictive measures in view of Russia's actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine


Test of final test exam

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