(1) If a party does not pay a sum of money when it falls due the aggrieved party is entitled to interest upon that sum from the time when payment is due to the time of payment whether or not the non-payment is excused.
(2) The rate of interest shall be the average bank short-term lending rate to prime borrowers prevailing for the currency of payment at the place for payment, or where no such rate exists at that place, then the same rate in the State of the currency of payment. In the absence of such a rate at either place the rate of interest shall be the appropriate rate fixed by the law of the State of the currency of payment.
(3) The aggrieved party is entitled to additional damages if the non-payment caused it a greater harm.
1. Lump sum compensation for failure to pay a sum of money
This Article reaffirms the widely accepted rule according to which the harm resulting from delay in the payment of a sum of money is subject to a special regime and is calculated by a lump sum corresponding to the interest accruing between the time when payment of the money was due and the time of actual payment.
Interest is payable whenever the delay in payment is attributable to the non-performing party, and this as from the time when payment was due, without any need for the aggrieved party to give notice of the default.
If the delay is the consequence of force majeure (e.g. the non-performing party is prevented from obtaining the sum due by reason of the introduction of new exchange control regulations), interest will still be due not as damages but as compensation for the enrichment of the debtor as a result of the non-payment as the debtor continues to receive interest on the sum which it is prevented from paying.
The harm is calculated as a lump sum. In other words, subject to paragraph (3) of this Article, the aggrieved party may not prove that it could have invested the sum due at a higher rate of interest or the non-performing party that the aggrieved party would have obtained interest at a rate lower than the average lending rate referred to in paragraph (2).
The parties may of course agree in advance on a different rate of interest (which would in effect subject it to Article 7.4.13).
2. Rate of interest
Paragraph (2) of this Article fixes in the first instance as the rate of interest the average bank short-term lending rate to prime borrowers. This solution seems to be that best suited to the needs of international trade and most appropriate to ensure an adequate compensation of the harm sustained. The rate in question is the rate at which the aggrieved party will normally borrow the money which it has not received from the non-performing party. That normal rate is the average bank short-term lending rate to prime borrowers prevailing at the place for payment for the currency of payment.
No such rate may however exist for the currency of payment at the place for payment. In such cases, reference is made in the first instance to the average prime rate in the State of the currency of payment. For instance, if a loan is made in pounds sterling payable in country X and there is no rate for loans in pounds on country X financial market, reference will be made to the rate in the United Kingdom.
In the absence of such a rate at either place, the rate of interest will be the “appropriate” rate fixed by the law of the State of the currency of payment. In most cases this will be the legal rate of interest and, as there may be more than one, that most appropriate for international transactions. If there is no legal rate of interest, the rate will be the most appropriate bank rate.
3. Additional damages recoverable
Interest is intended to compensate the harm normally sustained as a consequence of delay in payment of a sum of money. Such delay may however cause additional harm to the aggrieved party for which it may recover damages, always provided that it can prove the existence of such harm and that it meets the requirements of certainty and foreseeability (paragraph (3)).
A concludes a contract with B, a specialised finance company, for a loan which will permit the renovation of its factory in country X. The loan specifically mentions the use of the funds. The money lent is transferred three months later than agreed. During that period the cost of the renovation has increased by ten percent. A is entitled to recover this additional sum from B.