Distribution agreements can be of great importance in an international context, when suppliers often appoint distributors in order to sell their goods into a particular country in which the supplier has no presence.
Distribution agreements must be distinguished from agency agreements. In an agency arrangement, the agent does not buy goods on his own account, but arranges sales direct from the seller to the buyer. However, with distribution agreements, the distributor will purchase the goods himself, for onward sale. There is no direct relationship between the seller and the end customer. In addition, in many countries agents are given rights designed to protect their business interests and income, whereas the rights of distributors are generally much more limited.
Finally, it is particularly important to have a distribution agreement in writing between the parties when they are from different countries, because in the absence of a clear contract, language and cultural differences can lead to misunderstandings.
Healys has extensive experience and expertise in negotiating and drafting international distribution agreements. We also work closely with foreign lawyers and can introduce clients to them where necessary. We take a realistic and commercial approach to a client's needs, always ensuring that we understand the purpose behind the distribution relationship, in order to tailor the distribution agreement to best fit the client's requirements.