distribution & agency agreements
Enlisting the help of an agent or distributor can be a highly effective and cost efficient way of boosting business sales. It can enable you to get your goods and services into new markets and territories, without having to take on extra staff or additional premises, and allow you to tap into the knowledge and expertise of a local specialist who is already operating in your target area.
However, as with all commercial arrangements, there is scope for problems to arise where relations between a business and agent or distributor break down, or where a disagreement emerges over contractual rights or applicable domestic and international law.
If not tackled promptly, these problems have the potential to get out of hand and to cause serious financial harm, crippling operational difficulties and irreversible reputational damage.
How we can help resolve disputes
Our dispute resolution team specialise in finding solutions to conflicts involving agents and distributors, aiming to achieve a swift and commercially acceptable settlement – whether through negotiation, mediation, arbitration or court proceedings.
We work with a select group of experts who can add weight to your case and increase your chances of achieving a good outcome, including experienced barristers and forensic accountants.
We can assist with both UK and overseas arrangements and offer expert support whether you are an appointing manufacturer, supplier or service provider, or indeed an agent or distributor.
Our distribution & agency services
We can provide advice on any type of agency or distribution dispute, including:
- breach of contract claims;
- termination rights;
- entitlement to commission payments;
- compensation and indemnity rights under the Commercial Agents Regulations;
- violation of competition rules and anti-bribery legislation;
- non-compliance with contractual restraint of trade provisions; and
- ownership or infringement of intellectual property rights.
We can also help with the enforcement of foreign judgments obtained in cross-border disputes, and with domestic and international restructuring exercises where your aim is to avoid a dispute arising. This includes where you wish to remove an agent or distributor to bring your sales inhouse.
Expertise in dispute advice
We have experience in advising on disputes which arise out of exclusive, non-exclusive and sole distribution and agency agreements, and which turn either on the terms of the contract that has been negotiated or on domestic or international rules and regulations. Our expertise spans a wide range of sectors, including manufacturing, IT and electronics.
Disputes between businesses and agents tend to arise where there is an allegation that the agent has exceeded their authority, committed a breach of their fiduciary duties or otherwise failed to comply with their contractual obligations, or where an agent alleges that they have not been paid all of the commission that is due for sales or orders secured.
Disputes also frequently arise when an agency arrangement is brought to an end, and particularly where the Commercial Agents Regulations apply and there is a disagreement about whether the agent is entitled to a compensation or indemnity payment upon the contract being terminated, or an in-lieu payment where inadequate notice of termination has been given.
Whatever your position in the dispute, and whether you act as a principal or agent, we can tell you where you stand legally, outline your options for achieving an acceptable settlement and support you in securing this in the most appropriate way given the circumstances.
We can also offer advice on the time limits that apply to agency claims, and particularly where the Commercial Agents Regulations apply and an agent is therefore bound to give notice of an intention to bring a claim within 12 months from when the agency arrangement was terminated.
Disputes between businesses and distributors tend to arise where there is an attempt to bring the arrangement to a premature and non-consensual end, or in the context of alleged breaches of contractual requirements as to:
- the exclusivity of the arrangement;
- the frequency with which products will be bought and supplied;
- pricing and payment policies; and
- restrictions on the sale of competing goods.
We will review your contractual arrangements, and all statutory requirements, to tell you where you stand and then offer strategic advice on how to best deal with the dispute that has arisen.
We have particular expertise in advising on competition law concerns, and specifically on your ability to rely on the automatic block exemption where you have a vertical distribution agreement.
Why choose Geoffrey Leaver Solicitors?
Our dispute resolution lawyers have an enviable reputation for their ability to diffuse commercial conflicts and to achieve an out of court settlement in the majority of cases. However, they are also renowned litigators with the skills and expertise to successfully prosecute or defend a legal claim and to secure the best possible judge-ordered outcome.
By entrusting us to handle your agency or distribution dispute, you will benefit from straightforward, commercially focused advice that is geared towards helping you achieve an amicable resolution but which can quickly and seamlessly be adapted to advice on the position you should adopt in respect of legal proceedings should that be required.
You may also like to check out the client testimonials section of our website to find out what previous users of our service think; and to keep up to date with legal developments affecting agency and distribution arrangements, and commercial contracts more generally, why not take a look at our resource hub or sign up to receive our newsletter?
What our clients say:
“You have done a brilliant job from start to end and provided the most efficient and professional service.”
For more information about how we can help, you can read testimonials from our dispute resolution clients
Chambers & Partners 2021 notes the team is well-respected and active on a wide range of contractual claims and commercial disputes, including unfair prejudice claims and fraud-related proceedings. Local and international clientele comes from a variety of industry sectors, and also includes private individuals and SMEs. One client commends the “proactive, engaging and considerate” nature of the team.
Chambers & Partners 2020 says ‘Well-respected team active on a wide range of contractual claims and commercial disputes, including unfair prejudice claims and fraud-related proceedings. Local and international clientele comes from a variety of industry sectors, and also includes private individuals and SMEs.’
Legal 500 2020 says ‘Geoffrey Leaver Solicitors LLP’s dispute resolution and litigation practice specialises in commercial property disputes, distribution and agency agreements, debt collection and director, shareholder and partnership disputes. Its work includes dealing with injunctions and freezing orders and work in areas such as insolvency, international trade and IT and e-commerce. Practice head Kenneth Stangoe, Trevor Coward, Guy Brooks and Richard Millard are the key contacts’
The Dispute Resolution & Litigation Team
Ken Stangoe Partner
Dispute Resolution & Litigation 01908 689307Ken is Head of the Department. He has over 20 years' experience as a commercial litigator, with a heavy focus on property disputes, including forfeiture actions and applications for relief, right of way disputes, rent recovery for commercial landlords, trusts of land, dilapidations claims, boundary disputes, rent and service charge recovery and lease renewal applications.
Richard Millard Managing Partner
Construction & Development 01908 689382Richard has over 20 years’ experience acting for clients in the construction industry, providing pragmatic advice to developers, contractors, sub-contractors, design and construction professionals, housing associations, smaller builders and homeowners.
Guy Brooks Partner
Dispute Resolution & Litigation 01908 689304Guy has more than 30 years’ experience in the legal profession and headed up the Commercial Litigation department of local firm Fennemores, before joining Geoffrey Leaver as joint head of the Dispute Resolution department in 2006. The Dispute Resolution department have been recognised by Legal 500 UK.
Trevor Coward Partner
Dispute Resolution & Litigation 01908 689311Trevor specialises in the closely connected fields of commercial litigation, partner/director disputes, insolvency, property litigation, and professional negligence. His background is one of broad experience across a wide range of commercial litigation. He is a member of Legal Counsel International, an alliance of lawyers in 17 countries.