China: 海外代理合同审核要点

Last Updated: 17 June 2019
Article by Yang Xiaojie
Most Read Contributor in China, July 2019

随着中国的改革开放不断深入,中国企业"走出去"的步伐越来越快,中国的产品和服务越来越多的走出国门,进入国际市场。在开拓国际市场的初期,依靠当地代理商进行业务和市场的拓展是大多数企业首选的方式之一。通常代理公司会借助其在海外市场营销渠道、客户网络、市场资源等优势,为委托人联系业务、签订合同、代办清关、组织发货等事宜,从而赚取代理费用;委托方则专注于国内生产、产品研发,从而双方各尽其职,达到事半功倍的效果。双方具体的职责分工、应享受的权利及承担的风险则通过签订代理协议加以规定和约束。

这种方式对于初期开展海外市场拓展或未在国外建立分支机构或子公司的中国企业来讲,是成本最低、简单易行的一种方式。但由于商业代理关系在各国的法律规定各有不同,各地的商业惯例也有很大差异,所以海外代理合同如果处理不当,将给"走出去"的中国企业埋下隐患,甚至形成巨额的跨境诉讼/仲裁,给中国企业带来巨大的经济损失。

笔者从多年的国际贸易法律服务经验中对海外代理合同的特点进行总结,提炼出海外代理合同的审核要点,供公司法务人员、国际贸易从业者和涉外律师等相关人群参考。

一、代理关系

各国对代理关系的认定各有不同,从合同形式上看,有要求缔结书面合同作为认定代理关系形式要件的,比如法国1958年12月23日代理商有关法令第58-1345号规定,委托人与代理商之间缔结的合同必须是书面的,而且代理商必须向商事法庭的办事处办理特别注册。注册的有效期只有5年。如果代理关系存续,则每隔5年更新一次注册。

某些国家不要求代理合同以书面形式订立,比如危地马拉,只要提示订货清单、推销记录、货物托运单以及其他书面文件,就可以认定合同成立。

认定代理关系的成立是确定双方权利义务的基础。中国出口企业应特别关注目标市场所在国相关法律规定,同时,在与海外公司或个人交易时,在合同中要清楚界定双方法律关系。英文表述franchise arrangements, distribution agency, sales agency, commission arrangements, dealerships or a sales representative arrangement都可能被认定为代理关系,从而中国企业可能被要求承担诸多委托人的义务。

二、代理商品的界定

对于综合产品提供商,比如生产电子零配件、大型工业机械等,这些产品的范围很广。在选择代理商品的范围时,应考虑代理商的资历、资质、资源、成熟的产品市场等综合因素来确定。例如,一家多元化的生产与服务型企业,其产品和服务范围涵盖电气、电子元件、海底通信系统的设计、生产、安装和服务、防火系统、电子安全服务、流量控制阀门等,欲在欧洲某国寻找代理商开拓市场,若商业代理合同的代理范围条款拟定宽泛,授予代理商过多的代理范围,可能使后期的业务开拓陷于被动。例如下面的两种表述可能带来不同的市场效果。

Party A has the right to act as the exclusive agent to sell all productsand services of Party B.(不限制范围)

VS.

Party A has the right to act as the exclusive agent to sell all productsand services of Party Bin the scope of electronic components.(根据代理商的能力限制代理范围)

三、代理区域的界定

代理区域的确定需要考虑代理商的能力覆盖所在地区或所在国,以做相应的约定。同时,代理区域的考量还需要结合代理的性质是独家代理还是非独家代理。在某些细分领域,商业代理还需要区分地理空间的区域代理和视觉空间的区域代理。

The territory for agency under this Agreement includes both the territory in the geographical sense and the territory of virtual space. The territory in the geographical sense means any territory within the People's Republic of China. The territory of virtual space means TV,Internet, mobile communication network and any other distribution network, i.e., the selling of products or services of Party B via TV,Internet, mobile communication network and any other distribution network (including, but not limited to TV shopping, online shopping,mobile shopping, etc.) shall be conducted by Party B on an exclusivebasis.

四、对代理商的考核

很多海外代理合同常常忽略了对代理商考核的条款。就代理合同的性质而言,授权方将产品的代理权授予代理商是授权方对自己产品销售权在特定区域的让渡,一般还会按照销售金额的一定比例向代理商支付佣金。对等的,代理商也应承担勤勉尽责的开展市场拓展的合同义务。一般在代理合同中对代理商市场开拓频次、方式、信息报告义务、年度业绩达成等应有相应的约定。

五、代理期限及委托人的单方解除权

代理期限即代理合同或代理关系存续的期限。考虑到不了解代理商的实力和能力,首次签订海外代理合同时,代理期限不建议约定过长,一般以一年为限。通过实际的合作以及市场的不断发展,再行签订第二次、第三次代理合同。

在国内,即便是固定期限的代理合同,委托人亦有权在合同期限内随时行使单方解除权。但某些国家出于对本地代理商的保护,对代理期限有特殊的法律规定,比如,阿联酋2010年出台的《商业代理法》对固定期限代理合同的代理权解除有特别规定,即,对固定期限合同的解释仅限于明确了代理期限的合同,不包括提前通知即可终止的合同类型(而在现实中代理合同都是这类提前通知即可终止的合同)。

也就在说,在阿联酋2010年代理法下,委托人要想解除固定期限代理合同或拒绝续延代理合同,必须满足以下三个条件:1)获得原代理商的同意;2)有实质理由解除合同或到期不再续签合同,并得到商业代理委员会同意;3)或得到法院的最终判决。可以想见,要满足这些条件对于委托人而言难度是非常大的。

同时,2010年商业代理规定任何商业代理争议需首先提交商业代理委员会,这是一个前置程序,否则法庭不予受理商业代理争议。商业代理委员会在接到申请后60天内进行听证,任何一方如果对商业代理委员的决定不服,还可在收到此决定30日内向法院起诉。如果30天内未就此决定起诉的,则此商业代理委员会的决定发生法律效力。

很明显在2010年商业代理法下阿联酋对其国内代理商的保护得到了极大地加强,如果代理协议不能有效解除,则意味着委托人不能再委托新的代理人,也就是说委托人产品无法进入原代理区域市场,而且原代理人也有权要求海关对非经其代理进口的产品进行查封。

六、佣金

代理商缔结代理合同的目的是获得佣金。不同国家对佣金请求权的具体规定(佣金请求权的基础、佣金的发生时间和佣金比率等)各不一样,比如德国代理法第87条第1项规定,"代理商对合同期间所缔结的、属于代理活动的同类合同范围的客户之间的全部交易有佣金请求权",就是说,佣金请求权以代理商的活动和合同成立的因果关系为条件,在此基础上才有佣金请求权。在代理合同终止后的适当时间内,如果代理商出于交易的需要,为合同的结束做准备,佣金请求权依然有效。德国商法对佣金的发生时间也做了规定,代理商的佣金请求权并不是针对所付出的劳务,而是通过劳务使委托人享受的经济效益。因此,德国商法的规定对委托人是有益的。委托人只能根据交易的实际情况或与最终客户是否签订了合同且实际获益来决定是否接受代理商的佣金请求权。如果最终客户未支付货款,代理商就会失去佣金请求权,代理商已经获得的佣金,必须返还。

七、代理商的补偿请求权

代理商的补偿请求权,即代理合同终止后,允许代理商在一定条件下获得经济补偿的权利。在国内,《民法总则》和《合同法》等法律法规并没有通过立法的方式规定代理商的补偿请求权,而是以委托人和代理商之间的约定为准。

很多国家的法律承认代理商的补偿请求权,比如德国商法规定,满足三个条件,代理商的补偿请求权就可以被支持:1)合同终止后,委托方由于与代理商开发的客户建立关系而获得明显的利益;2)因为合同的终止代理商失去了如果合同存续,可能从交易中获得的佣金;3)补偿金的最高限额按照代理商最后5年所得佣金的年平均数额,支付1年的佣金;如果合同期不满5年,则以实际年限的年平均额支付1年的佣金。且补偿请求权不得事先排除或限制;法国关于代理的政令则不承认代理商的补偿请求权。拉美大多数国家的立法均认可代理商的补偿请求权,比如,洪都拉斯的《民法》和《商法》规定,以下情形代理商有权要求补偿金:委托人无正当理由解除合同;委托人无正当理由拒绝修订或更新代理合同。

因此,在立法认可代理商补偿请求权的国家签订代理合同,即便合同中没有约定代理商的补偿请求权,在代理合同终止后,代理商也可依据法律的规定向委托人要求经济补偿。中国出口企业应在签署合同前充分了解当地法律法规。

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