The French Ministry for the Economy is taking Amazon to court, accusing the e-commerce giant of imposing unfair contracts on suppliers.
Brun Le Maire, minister for the economy, has lodged a complaint with the Commercial Court of Paris and is seeking a record fine of €10m.
The move follows an investigation by the country’s competition watchdog, the Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF), into the contracting behaviour of a number of e-commerce sites.
The investigation found the most serious concerns about behavioural practice arouse from the Amazon Group, noting that the contracts Amazon imposed included clauses that allowed the firm to unilaterally modify commercial conditions and unilaterally suspend or terminate commercial relationships.
DGCCRF said the minister was seeking the record fine because of the seriousness of these practices and the damages they have caused to the economy.
Two other e-commerce platforms, Cdiscount and Rue du Commerce, were issued injunctions to remove tariff alignment clauses and are now compliant.
DGCCRF also noted third-party vendors that supply e-commerce sites were typically small businesses that earned money on a commission basis and needed the notoriety of these platforms to reach consumers, creating a structural imbalance.
An Amazon spokesperson said: “We do not comment on outstanding legal proceedings.”
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