The Monti Government passed a package of reforms aimed at boosting the economy by doing away with restrictive practices and enhancing competition through the liberalization of certain sectors.
The law, which became effective at the end of March, introduces in particular new regulations for supply contracts of food and beverage products. These rules, which will have a significant impact on the relationship between suppliers and large supermarket chains, will affect the entire food sector. The purpose of the new regulations is to protect the weaker contractual party (usually the supplier) from late payments. The provisions of the law include:
- Requirement that all supply contracts be in writing or risk being null and void and provide the following information: duration, quantity and characteristics of product being sold, price, delivery method and payment details;
- Restrictions on the general sale and purchase conditions to avoid them being unfair to one of the parties;
- Payment terms established by law (30 days from delivery, collection or invoicing for perishable goods and 60 days for all other goods);
- An additional 2% penalty interest is payable on the amount of the late payment
- Sanctions for non compliance with the new regulations are as follows:
- Fines of up to a maximum of €20,000 in respect of the absence of a written contract;
- Fines of up to a maximum of €3,000 for unfair sale and purchase conditions;
- Fines of up to a maximum of €500,000 for not meeting the prescribed payment terms.
Responsibility for the verification of any violations of the regulations will rest with the AGCM (Autorità
Concorrenza ed il Mercato) who may apply for assistance to the Guardia di Finanza (Tax Police) as
well as other officers and agents.