Une vente qui porte ses fruits

FlickR - Saint-Pons-de-Thomières mairie.JPGC’est l’histoire d’un hôpital local qui a, par actes du 16 février 2001, acquis :

  • d’une part un immeuble servant à l’exploitation d’un fonds de commerce de maisons de soins pour personnes âgées exploité par une société civile immobilière (SCI) en liquidation judiciaire,
  • et d’autre part, le fonds de commerce dans l’immeuble.

Le prix de vente n’a été payé par l’établissement acquéreur que le 8 février 2002. Le liquidateur de la SCI a alors saisi le tribunal afin d’obtenir le paiement des intérêts au taux légal entre le 16 février 2001 (date de la conclusion de la vente) et le 8 février 2002 (date du paiement de la vente).

Bien évidemment, l’établissement s’insurge contre cette demande qu’il estime mal fondée.

Las, c’est oublier une règle bicentenaire du Code civil, soit l’article 1652 dudit code : « l’acheteur doit l’intérêt du prix de la vente jusqu’au payement du capital, dans les trois cas suivants : s’il a ainsi été convenu lors de la vente ; si la chose vendue et livrée produit des fruits ou autres revenus ; si l’acheteur a été sommé de payer. Dans ce dernier cas, l’intérêt ne court que depuis la sommation ».

La jurisprudence relative à la question, peu nombreuse il est vrai, et reproduite en dessous de cet article, nous apprend qu’un immeuble susceptible d’être loué est une chose frugifère par nature.

Pour considérer, en l’espèce, que l’immeuble, objet de l’acquisition de l’établissement de santé, était frugifère, la cour d’appel a relevé que le prix de journée payé par les pensionnaires de la maison de retraite se composait de plusieurs éléments :

  • un élément tarifaire concernant le logement,
  • une composante relative aux soins,
  • une fraction dédiée aux repas
  • et une partie affectée aux autres dépenses payables par les personnes hébergées.

Cette composante logement s’attachait en l’occurrence à l’immeuble et non aux services dispensés par l’exploitant.

Par arrêt en date du 29 avril 2009, la troisième Chambre civile de la Cour de cassation a approuvé le raisonnement et la solution de la Cour d’appel de Montpellier ((Cass. Civ. 3ème, 29 avril 2009, n°08-14.607.)).

Pour sa défense, l’hôpital a eu beau se draper dans sa mission de service public pour considérer qu’il ne pouvait retirer un quelconque revenu de l’exploitation de l’immeuble vendu. La Cour de cassation n’en a eu cure. Au demeurant, exercer une mission de service public n’est pas en soi incompatible avec le fait de réaliser des recettes, me semble-t-il.

Omar YAHIA

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