Commercial Agents – Compensation Claims

Commercial agent compensation in Germany

The right of every commercial agent under German Law to get a compensation payment is laid down in § 89b German Commercial Code (HGB). Purpose of this severance payment is to provide the commercial agent with a compensation for the lasting benefit he created for the business: This includes in particular building relationships with regular customers and clients, who will remain (at least mostly) customers after the completion of the contract. The compensation for commercial agents under German Law also relates to substantially intensified relationships with existing customers. In both cases, the commercial agent created value for the business that will outlast the contractual relationship and can therefore not be compensated by the commission payments. For this reason, German Business Law provides specific severance payments for commercial agents.

Beforehand exclusion of the agent’s compensation is invalid

The described legislative concept that is now practiced in a similar way in all the Member States of the European Union (EU) also explains why a beforehand exclusion of the right to a severance payment cannot be valid. Surprisingly, many businesses are not appropriately prepared for this relatively high level of protection for commercial agents in Germany and the EU. The statutory provisions for commercial agents in Germany (or their EU aquivalent) are applicable as soon as an agent is usually active on German territory. So, whenever the German market and German customers are involved it is quite likely that there are compensation claims available for the commercial agent under German Law – hence, businesses should prepare themselves for such a claim.

Defense litigation against a commercial agent claim for compensation

The principle of fair compensation for the remaining value created makes also clear that various aspects have to be assessed: The basis for an assessment of the amount to be paid is the average commission for a certain period of time (depending on the industry around 4 -6 years), which has to be reduced in accordance with a probable migration factor and a discount rate. Further, saved costs of the agent have to be deducted. Besides, additional reductions may be appropriate if the commercial agent sells competing products in the same industry or has acted in breach of contract during the relationship. Of great practical importance is, moreover, every other possible reason for the success of the business that is not related to the commercial agent's direct efforts (e.g. the pull effect of a brand or similar factors).

Statutory limitation of the commercial agent compensation claim under German Law

Under German Commercial Law the commercial agent has to make his claim for compensation within one year after the end of the business relationship. This is an absolute cut-off period that can not be extended. From the perspective of the commercial agent, therefore, it is vital to produce an explicit claim within this period.

German Lawyer in Commercial Law

Our Commercial Lawyers take care of the enforcement of your commercial agent compensation claim (Handelsvertreterausgleichsanspruch) or defend your business against such a claim. German Attorney at Law Dr. Christian Hendrik Zeller acts for you at the overlaps between German Commercial Law and Employment Law. Attorney Dr. Zeller provides persistent courtroom representation before all German Higher Courts and Appeal Courts.

You are warmly welcome to contact our law firm by phone (+49 (0) 69-58 80 972-40), by email (mail@zellerseyfert.com ) or by contact form. Please also note that you may book a cost-free initial consultancy appointment with one of our German Commercial Lawyers. Further, you are invited to request a call-back within 24 hours or to live-chat with us. We look forward to speaking with you. Google

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