À l’origine, les conventions de distribution se définissent comme des ententes formelles entre les distributeurs, englobant fréquemment des producteurs, des grossistes ou des fabricants, ainsi que des intermédiaires tels que les détaillants. Ces conventions établissent le cadre dans lequel les produits ou les services sont acheminés en direction d’une audience spécifique. Par la conclusion de ces accords, les parties délimitent scrupuleusement leurs responsabilités, leurs obligations et leurs droits, érigeant ainsi un canevas directeur pour leur collaboration. Certains termes seront mis en exergue en gras, et une traduction de ces termes sera accessible en fin d’article.

What are distribution contracts?

Distribution contracts are legal agreements between distributors (usually producers, wholesalers, or manufacturers) and intermediaries such as retailers. These agreements establish essential frameworks for delivering items or services to consumers. By entering into these contracts, parties outline their responsibilities, obligations, and rights, providing a foundation for their partnership. 

See https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/loda/id/JORFTEXT000032004939/ as pertains to Article 1110 of the Civil Code (Code Civil).

The different types of distribution contracts:

Distribution contracts take several forms, each tailored to unique business objectives and contexts

Franchise Agreements : A franchise agreement, is a contract in which a well-known brand (franchisor) shares its brand identity, operational procedures, and strategies with independent entrepreneurs (franchisees). This agreement enables franchisees to access a tried-and-true business model while compensating the franchisor for the use of their brand and expertise.

Contracts for Selective Distribution: In selective distribution, suppliers authorise a restricted number of distributors depending on specified criteria. This strategy is typically used for products with distinguishing features or expensive items. It enables providers to maintain an organised and well managed distribution network.

Exclusive Distribution Agreements: Exclusive distribution agreements provide the distributor with the sole licence to distribute a specific product within a particular region. This arrangement allows distributors to focus solely on distributing a product and growing their business without worrying about immediate competition.

Necessary requirements in distribution contracts

Before engaging in any distribution arrangement, it is essential that the contract includes a number of essential requirements. These are necessary in order to maintain a balanced and fair business relationship, parties engaging in distribution contracts are subject to the following requirements:

Pre-contractual Information: Distributors are obligated to provide detailed product and service information during negotiations.

Compliance with Competition Law: Adherence to competition legislation is critical for preventing anti-competitive behaviour.

General Terms and Conditions : Distributors should receive and recognise the supplier’s general terms and conditions on a yearly basis.

Timely Communication: It is important to respond to enquiries as soon as possible in order to maintain successful communication.

Fair Practices: Suppliers must avoid taking advantage of distributors’ weaknesses or imposing unfair terms in the agreements.

Contractual Requirements for Distribution:

Identification of Parties: It is important to clearly identify the parties involved as well as their legal representatives.

Important Information: The contract should outline crucial details regarding each party, such as legal form and registration information.

Business History: Prior to drafting a contract, it is crucial that both parties share information about prior distribution agreements if they have any.

Contract Purpose: Specify the main goals of the contract, such as product distribution and knowledge transfer.

Essential Clauses for Distribution Contracts

Here is a list of essential clauses that are expected to be included in a contract:

Territorial exclusivity clause: This clause details the specific area in which items or services will be marketed and sold. It is a common requisite in exclusive distribution agreements. Typically, it entails that the manufacturer will promise to have just one distributor in this designated area. In exchange, the distributor will pledge to selling the items solely in this defined zone.

Non-Competition Clause:

The provision for this in a contract permits you to prohibit your partner from communicating with rivals or participating in a competitive business during the contract.  Non-compete clauses can last the whole contract term, as long as they meet with legal requirements.

Confidentiality Clause

Confidentiality is essential in a distribution network and it is crucial that this is included in the contract. This provision prohibits the distributor from releasing sensitive information as this may be harmful to the business. 

Yield Clause

The yield clause improves the stability of the partnership by creating economic objectives for the distributor. These objectives might be related to sales volume or a certain product purchase rate.

What you need to know for the termination of a distribution contract

Fixed term contract: The termination date serves to inform relevant parties when the contract will end. The contract typically expires on a date that has been agreed upon. However, it may incorporate provisions for renewal, particularly if an implied renewal clause is present in contractual terms.

Contract for an Indefinite duration of Time: This stipulation facilitates the option for both parties to end the contract unilaterally. There is a notice period outlined, and when terminating a commercial partnership, it is crucial that it is adhered to. Factors such as, the length of the business relationship, company’s turnover and industry norms can determine the length notice period.

If you have any additional queries in regards to this area of law, it is advisable to seek the assistance of a legal professional with relevant expertise.

You can also read the following articles for some additional information

📝 Distribution contract: everything you need to know – CGV-Expert

Distribution contract: everything you need to know in 5 minutes (beaubourg-avocats.fr)


Traduction des mots surlignés

Frameworks – Cadres

Entails – Implique

Additional – Supplémentaires

Yield – Rendement

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