A civil company (société civile) is a company governed by the Civil Code. This form of company is often used by the civil, agricultural, liberal and intellectual professions. It is very frequently used to manage immovable assets in the form of a real-estate company constituted under civil law (société civile immobilière - SCI).
There are 4 different forms of civil companies:
- the société universelle tous biens présents: pooling by the parties of all the movable and immovable assets that they possess and the resulting profits;
- the société universelle de gains: pooling of what the parties acquire through their efforts, of whatever nature, throughout the life of the company: the movable assets held by the parties over the term of the contract (personally held property only comes in for utilization purpose);
- the société particulière: applies only to certain defined items, their usage, or the resulting benefits;
- the société civile immobilière (SCI): pooling of professional property in a legal structure distinct from the operating business. It is called a société civile immobilière de gestion if its objective is to administer the properties it owns and that it leases to the operator. The net income that may be generated by letting is distributed between the partners.
Who is concerned
A civil company is suitable for any natural or legal person that wishes to carry out a non-commercial activity whilst seeking to:
- optimise the family assets from a taxation standpoint;
- avoid splitting real estate assets in the event of succession.
As a general rule, a civil company must be civil in character which does however not exclude that it has a commercial purpose (but in this case the tax situation as well as other aspects of the company will change).
The object of the company must be characterised by the intuitu personae which translates into the importance of the partners and their absolute will to work together as partners.
How to proceed
Creation of the company
- private or notarised deed;
- lodging with the trade and companies register (registre de commerce et des sociétés - RCS) for the purpose of publication in the electronic compendium of companies and associations (Recueil électronique des sociétés et associations - RESA);
- creation of a new legal personality, separate from that of its partners.
- for the entire life of the partners, unless otherwise specified in the statutes;
- death or withdrawal results in dissolution.
- no minimum or maximum;
- contributions in cash or in kind (no valuation required by a registered auditor (réviseur d'entreprises);
Form of company shares
Transfer of company shares
- unanimity of partners required (unless otherwise stipulated in the statutes).
- intuitu personae: partners will to associate;
- natural or legal persons;
- unlimited liability without joint and several responsibility;
- liability is proportional to the number of partners and does not depend on the share capital held.
Meeting of partners
- the law is silent on this subject, so common law applies to deliberations in meetings.
- one or more directors, partners or otherwise.
- natural or legal persons;
- no minimum or maximum number (single manager, co-management or no management).
Accounting and financial information
- clear and transparent accounts;
- no obligation of publication.
Who to contact