I am a selling agent/distributor for a UK subsidiary of a Swiss company selling barbecues through a retail outlet,my website and Ebay. I offer different levels of selling prices for the same items on Ebay and my website. The barbecue company is dissatisfied with my Ebay price level and has asked me to increase my prices. They are now threatening that if I do not comply they will remove my discounts.Is this lawful?Cameron Easton www.outdoor-bbq.co.uk01763 848546, 07837 256854
Nothing. I have just received the threat.
Thank you for your question.
Please could you tell if you have a written agreement with the company? If so, what does it say about your selling price?
I look forward to hearing from you.
I would need to know what your contract says about pricing to determine if your pricing obligations are lawful.
If you did not sign a written contract, then please let me know.
Sorry I have been travelling! I was issued with an Agency Agreement 18/3/11, expiry 31/12/11.Clause 13 states - All goods are sold by us subject to our prices and conditions of sale from time to time in force and we shall keep you informed of any amendments to such prices and conditions.You will procure that all customers sign a copy of our Conditions to signify their acceptance of them.Within the agreement there is no reference to specific prices or discounts. I have asked several times for a contract for 2012. My local contact has responded saying that he is not satisfied with his own contract and has not signed. Until this is resolved I am to carry on as before.ThanksCameron
So, just to clarify, since end January 2012 you have been carrying on sales as an agent.
Also to clarify, when you make a sale to a customer, is the contract/invoice issued by you in the name of your business, or is it issued in the name of the UK subsidiary, or in the name of the Swiss company?
I look forward to your response.
In answer yes since January 2012 I have been carrying on sales as an agent and distributor. My agency sales (third party) are invoiced locally by my principal with eventually a commission to me. My distributor sales, mainly through my website are invoiced by me.Thanks againCameron
OK, thanks for confirming.
You should know that different rules apply to agents and distributors.
As an agent, it is permitted for the principal to set your sales price.
However, as a distributor, you must be free to sell at the price of your own choosing. A manufacturer may recommend prices to its distributors, but cannot impose the price at which they sell. This is because resale price maintenance is prohibited under the European competition rules, whether at the EU level (by Article 101 of the EU treaty), in UK law (the Competition Act 1998, section 2) or in Swiss law (RS 251 - "Loi fédérale sur les cartels et autres restrictions à la concurrence" of 1995, Article 5(4)).
I therefore suggest you respond to the company in writing and make them aware that you will follow their instructions when selling as an agent. However, you should also indicate that you cannot agree to allow them to set your prices when selling as a distributor, since to agree on prices would amount to resale price maintenance which is prohibited by EU, UK and Swiss competition laws.
I hope this answers your question. Please don't forget to click accept. Thanks in advance.
12+ years experience // Masters in EU Law
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).