The sloping playing field

Stephen Sidkin's review of the European Commission's report on compensation/indemnity for commercial agents highlights the inadequacies in the EU agency directive and its national implementation. Reading it the same morning as I took Italian law advice on behalf of a UK agent whose principal is insisting on Italian law, the article struck home. National laws vary. Levels of compensation/indemnity are far from clear and jurisdictional issues are complex.

Taking the example of Italy, it is being taken to the European Court of Justice for failure to implement the directive properly and a Collective Agreement negotiated with industry is being used which usually results in a payment on termination of only 5 per cent of annual commission.

In the UK, attempts to exclude the directive/regulations are void and limitations to compensation sums in contracts would usually be overridden by the courts. However, we learn that in Italy we can provide for higher levels of payment on termination than Italian law provides, by a term in the contract. So much for a level playing field of harmonised laws.

Susan Singleton,

Principal, Singletons.