Commercial Agency Law and Agreements in Austria

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Role of Commercial Agents

Commercial agents in Austria broker deals for companies, seeking new business opportunities under the Commercial Agents Act ("Handelsvertretergesetz" - HVertrG). They typically do not conclude deals themselves but facilitate them.

Commercial Agency Agreement

A contract between the commercial agent and the principal (the company they represent) must comply with the HVertrG and EU Directive RL 86/653/EEC. It distinguishes between statutory and contractual rights and obligations, ensuring adherence to mandatory norms.

Rights and Obligations of Commercial Agents

Agents are entitled to remuneration (commission) and accurate accounting. They have the right to inspect books and records. Their primary duty is to broker or conclude deals, represent the principal's interests, provide necessary information, and inform the principal of business transactions.

Obligations of the Principal

Principals must pay the agreed commission and support the agent with information and documents, maintaining disclosure, loyalty, and confidentiality.

Key Contractual Points

The agency agreement outlines both parties' rights and obligations, aiming to minimize disputes. It covers the scope of activities, commission, exclusivity, territorial protection, and non-compete clauses.

Antitrust Considerations

Determining if an agent is a "true" commercial agent (bearing no or insignificant risks) is crucial, as only genuine agency contracts are exempt from cartel prohibition.

Compensation Claim

Section 24 HVertrG entitles agents to compensation upon contract termination if they have brought new customers or expanded business, benefiting the principal post-termination. The compensation must be fair, reflecting commissions from relevant transactions. This also applies to distributors, franchisees, and insurance agents.

Statute of Limitations

Claims arising from agency agreements typically have a three-year statute of limitations, while compensation claims must be made within one year.

Legal Advice

Dr. Simon Harald Baier LL.M. offers advice on commercial agency agreements, distribution agreements, and commercial and antitrust law matters.

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