Moore v Piretta Pta Ltd: QBD 11 May 1998

M had a series of agency contracts selling women’s clothing. The last contract was in 1994, and on termination, M claimed an indemnity under the contract which itself applied the regulations. Reg 17(3) gave an indemnity for new customers, where the principal continued to derive benefit.
Held: The agency contract was to be interpreted to include the series of contracts, including those before the regulations. The indemnity was capped at one year’s average remuneration over the previous five years. A commercial agent whose contract had been terminated during term of contract was entitled nevertheless to an indemnity in accordance with the Regulations for custom introduced for entire period. In an indemnity case, equitable principles might require there to be taken into account such part of the goodwill as the agent was able to exploit for himself, or for the benefit of another principal.
John Mitting QC said: ‘Consistent with the purpose of achieving harmony between member states, it is in my judgment permissible to look into the law and practice of the country in which the relevant right . . originated . . ; and to do so for the purpose of construing the English (sic) Regulations and to use them as a guide to their application’.
and ‘There are three stages in assessing the amount of the indemnity. First, it has to be asked what is the value of the business to the principal of new customers brought . . by the agent and of existing customers whose business has been significantly increased. The factors to be taken into account in making that judgment include the loss of the business of such customers after the agency has been terminated, whether due to causes beyond the agent’s and principal’s control (for example insolvency on the part of the customer or a decision on the part of that customer to buy goods elsewhere) or to factors within the agent’s control, for example the agent taking the custom of that customer with him. That is because the thing that has to be assessed is the extent to which the principal continues to derive substantial benefits from the efforts of the agent. The value of the business which remains for the benefit of the principal can, and in some cases no doubt should be, assessed by reference to periods as short as a year. But there is nothing in the regulations that requires them to be thus limited. If on the evidence the benefits of the agent’s efforts are likely to endure for more than a year after the termination of the agency then that fact can be taken into account in the assessment and need not be limited to looking at the period of one year after termination only.
The second factor is that the payment must be equitable having regard to all the circumstances and particularly the commission ‘lost’ by the agent. . Other factors which can be taken into account under this head include . . the expenses which the agent would have incurred in earning the commission which was his due. Another factor common to all cases is accelerated payment: the indemnity is accrued as at the date of termination in respect of commission which would have occurred after it. Some discount on that account must be made.
The purpose of the indemnity seems to me to be to award a share of the goodwill built up by the efforts of the agent to him on the termination of the agency. Otherwise the whole benefit of that goodwill will remain with his former principal.
The third step in the calculation is this. Having calculated the amount of the indemnity, a cap is applied. The cap is provided for in reg 17(4).’


John Mitting QC


Times 11-May-1998, [1999] 1 All ER 174, [1998] CLY 113


Commercial Agents (Council Directive) Regulations 1993 No 3053, Council Directive 86/653/EEC of 18 December 1986 on the coordination of the laws of the Member States relating to self-employed commercial agents 17

Cited by:

CitedTigana Ltd v Decoro Ltd QBD 3-Feb-2003
The claimant sought compensation after its sales agency agreement with the defendant was terminated. He had opened up several substantial sales channels for the respondent’s products within the UK. There were difficulties in the products (leather . .
CitedSmith, Bailey Palmer v Howard and Hallam Ltd QBD 14-Nov-2005
Claim for compensation after termination of commercial agency agreement. . .
CitedStewart Roy v M R Pearlman Limited SCS 10-Mar-1999
A court investigating legislation, made to implement a European Directive, had still to apply UK principles in that interpretation, and not to disregard entirely common law rules. . .
CitedDavid Frape v Emreco International Limited (2) SCS 2-Aug-2001
. .
CitedHardie Polymers Ltd v Polymerland Ltd SCS 31-Oct-2001
. .
CitedIngmar GB Limited v Eaton Leonard Technologies Inc CA 31-Jul-1998
Case referred to ECJ. . .
CitedPure Fishing (UK) Ltd v Cooper Watkins and Bartle CA 29-Sep-2003
The claimant sought a compensation payment under the Regulations after its sales agency for fishing tackle was terminated. The defendant argued that compensation was payable only where the agency was terminated before its term.
Held: The . .
CitedCooper and others v Pure Fishing (UK) Ltd CA 18-Mar-2004
. .
CitedPJ Pipe and Valve Co. Ltd. v Audco India Ltd QBD 2-Sep-2005
The claimant was an agent in the petrochemical industry promoting and selling the defendant’s valves. There were two agency agreements, one relating solely to products to be supplied to a particular petro-chemical complex in Nanhai, the other being . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Agency, European, Commercial

Updated: 09 April 2022; Ref: scu.83818