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Yes – but we will need to check whether English law applies to the agency contract and whether there are any terms in the agency contract which prohibit the agent from acting for a competitor (whether expressly or impliedly). Even if there are no such terms, the agent may be in serious breach of its statutory duties and/or fiduciary duties to you by acting for a competitor, which might enable you to terminate the agency contract. However, we will need to assess the factual circumstances before you take any action.

As a starting point you should think about ensuring that the distributor network will not infringe competition law, which could expose you to hefty fines. It is therefore crucial to assess the proposed network under both UK and EU competition laws as well as the national competition laws of countries outside of the EU and the UK where distributors will be based. We recommend that local law advice is taken in the countries where the distributors will be based because many countries outside the UK provide legal protections to distributors, including a right to payment of compensation on termination.

The starting point is to ensure that your contract with this customer includes provisions which set out both the payment terms and the terms on which you will supply. This is to ensure that your customer cannot refuse to pay by disputing that you have not fulfilled your side of the bargain! Subject to this we can advise on various payment scenarios ranging from requiring payment in advance to using letters of credit to obtaining a bank guarantee, to just issuing an invoice following your supplying the customer. It depends on the level of risk with which you feel comfortable.

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