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Examining the issues across Europe - A country-by-country guide to commercial agents

Having an effective route to market is vital for any business to make its products available to its customers. Many businesses remain unaware of the extent of the protection afforded to “commercial agents” by European legislation. This lack of awareness can prove to be costly. There are many examples of businesses – particularly multinationals – finding themselves liable to pay significant sums to their agents even when, on the face of it, the business has acted entirely in accordance with the agency contract. This guide will explain why that is the case and how the protection afforded to agents varies across Europe.

Download, view or share the Eversheds European commercial agency guide

How can we help?

Our guide provides an introduction to the law of commercial agency across Europe. It also covers;

an overview of the underlying legislation across Europe, which for the 28 Member States of the EU plus the further members of the European Economic Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), is the European Council Directive on the coordination of the laws of the Member States relating to self-employed commercial agents (86/653/EEC) (the “Directive”).

  • it examines how each Member State has interpreted and implemented the Directive and highlights the key provisions of which businesses need to be aware.
  • it provides you with an overview of each of the main jurisdictions, on a country-by-country basis. It also includes Switzerland for completeness, which has its own laws applicable to commercial agents.

Download, view or share the Eversheds European commercial agency guide

The Directive – an overview

The Directive applies to the 28 EU Member States plus the further members of the European Economic Area, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. It concerns commercial agents – independent/self-employed organisations or individuals used in the “negotiation” of the sale or purchase of products on behalf of a business – and was introduced for two main purposes:

  • to strengthen the position of commercial agents
  • to harmonise the laws of the Member States

The Directive sets out basic rules regulating the main aspects of the agency relationship between the principal and agent. It has important implications for businesses which operate through agents or representatives, generally enhancing the rights enjoyed by agents and imposing specific obligations on principals to ensure that they act fairly.

Why work with us?

At Eversheds we have offices in 20 European countries and can support you in protecting your position and understanding the different rules and requirements that apply. If you are an in house lawyer or other decision maker involved in a business that utilises agents working anywhere in Europe or reviewing its sales channels, this guide is for you as it provides an introduction to the law of commercial agency across Europe. The guide contains contact details for lawyers from Eversheds and associate offices with the requisite experience in each jurisdiction should advice be needed.

Download, view or share the Eversheds European commercial agency guide

Any questions?

Local contacts for our offices are contained within this guide. If you have any country-specific questions or need case-specific advice, please do not hesitate to contact them. If you would like any further information about the guide generally or have any comments on it, then please contact Tom Bridgford.