Commercial & Distribution Law, Product Liability/Product Compliance

The economic success of your products is determined during distribution – we have the experience and the legal and economic knowledge needed to develop the best possible purchasing and distribution structures for your transactions worldwide. In addition to being familiar with the increasingly more complex national and international legal provisions applicable to your products or your services, we also take into account the particularities of the industry in which you operate – because we have experience advising clients from this industry and understand the economic, technological and organisational changes affecting it. We assess the opportunities and the risks that are involved for you in e-commerce and understand and take into consideration all relevant developments resulting from Industry 4.0 in order to prepare your company efficiently for the future.

There is only a very narrow framework, defined by commercial law and by the law governing general terms and conditions, as well as by European antitrust law, within which you can install your distribution system in a legally valid manner. Our team, which has many years of experience and great expertise in this area, can advise you on all matters relating to distribution law, for example, on the drafting of authorised dealer, sales agency or franchising agreements. At the same time, there are only few other areas of law that are as prone to legal disputes as distribution law – in particular after parties put an end to their cooperation. We can represent you in all legal disputes before state courts or before national and international arbitral tribunals. 

We are also the ideal partner for you for advice on supply relationships and on all matters relating to the purchase or sale of goods, equipment or services: we ensure that the legal relations throughout your supply chain are perfectly structured in the context of national and international trade, both legally and economically. For complex procurement projects, we can draft development and supply contracts. Furthermore, we can revise and draft all further agreements that may be required for this purpose, such as general terms and conditions, quality agreements, logistics agreements, etc., and advise you on syndicate and plant engineering agreements. If the business of any of your suppliers is in crisis or insolvent, we represent you in close consultation with our Restructuring and Insolvency colleagues in securing your supply. 

Product liability cases are costly, complex and, in particular, may cause long-term damage to a company’s reputation. Successful advisors must be able to combine contract law, tort law and the German Product Liability Act, public law – such as the law governing CE marking or general product safety law – and dealings with regulatory authorities, as well as insurance law and criminal law. Stringent internal and external communications, organisational skills and a sure instinct are required to reconcile matters as diverse as defending against claims, safeguarding rights of recourse and maintaining customer relationships. One factor is, however, of particular importance: preparing timely and proactively for all contingencies – as well as ensuring that an experienced and well-rehearsed team consisting of both members from your company and lawyers exists. No matter how much (process-controlled) care is taken, product liability cases cannot always be avoided. The manner in which such cases are handled, as well as recourse to insurance companies or to your own suppliers, is one of the key issues when it comes to securing your own results. We help you prepare betimes for such risks. In this context, product compliance issues become increasingly more important. Your products’ conformity with the rising number of legal requirements, their official approval or certification, their design and marking, but also their documentation and monitoring are under scrutiny not only at the time of entering the market but throughout the lifecycle of your products. We can provide proactive advice in this regard and assist you with the implementation of a “legally sound” corporate organisation. If necessary, we can represent you in disputes with the market surveillance authorities. For there is little that can jeopardise a company more than an official prohibition imposed on the sale of its products.

In all of these areas, we enforce your rights and claims before state courts or national and international arbitral tribunals or defend you in legal disputes – in Germany and abroad. We develop the best strategy in consultation with you and represent you in all legal disputes, in and out of court, in a national and international context. We act as your negotiators, prepare settlements on your behalf, and handle the implementation and enforcement of judgments, decrees, orders and other decisions.

We are convinced that providing efficient and optimal advice to our clients requires a well-rehearsed, multidisciplinary team of lawyers, especially in complex projects. As a full-service law firm, our “Commercial and Distribution Law, Product Liability/Product Compliance” team works closely with its national and international colleagues from other practice areas, such as antitrust, competition, IP, IT or data protection law. At the same time, we make sure that you benefit from our proven industry expertise, for example, in the area of “Mobility & Logistics”. We always place our legal expertise in an overall context that is economically reasonable for you and successfully address any legal challenges faced by your company jointly with you.

 

Our Range of Advisory Services

Commercial Law
  • Drafting development and supply contracts for complex procurement projects, including additional agreements, such as release procedures for blanket purchase orders, logistics agreements, (consignment) warehouse agreements, tool agreements, etc.
  • Reviewing and drafting general terms and conditions (e.g. general terms and conditions for purchases, deliveries or services or general terms and conditions for guarantees)
  • Drafting quality assurance agreements
  • Advising on syndicate or plant engineering agreements
  • Ensuring reliable supplies if the contract partner is in crisis or insolvent
  • Compiling the contractual documentation relating to supply chain management
  • Contractual risk management
  • Organising in-house seminars for staff training
Distribution Law
  • Drafting authorised dealer agreements and additional agreements, such as garage or after-sale agreements
  • Drafting sales agency agreements or other distribution agreements, such as commission agent agreements or commercial broker agreements
  • Providing comprehensive advice on franchising agreements and master franchises
  • Advising on security for payments, especially in connection with cross-border deliveries
  • Representing clients in all disputes arising out of distribution agreements, in particular upon termination of the agreement, including providing strategic advice in advance of impending disputes
  • Contractual risk management
  • Organising in-house seminars for staff training
Product Liability/Product Compliance
  • Defending against product liability claims both in and out of court
  • Advising on obligations to carry out product recalls or other measures aimed at correcting markets
  • Enforcing rights of recourse against component suppliers or insurance companies
  • Advising on product safety law and on how to carry out product recalls ordered by public authorities, as well as representing clients vis-à-vis regulatory authorities
  • Providing product compliance advice, for example, in connection with the market entry, or advice on the official approval of products, mandatory CE marking, the design of warnings, or the technical documentation
  • Organising in-house seminars on product liability and product safety
  • Advising on insurance contract law and assisting with the claim adjustment
Litigation/Arbitration
  • Acting as a litigator, in Germany and internationally
  • Providing litigation advice and strategic advice
  • Providing preventive advice and training aimed at avoiding judicial disputes
  • Conducting negotiations, including negotiating settlements
  • Representing clients in mediation and conciliation proceedings
  • Safeguarding clients’ interests by obtaining injunctive relief and ensuring the preservation of evidence
  • Implementing and enforcing judgments, decrees, orders and other decisions in Germany and abroad
  • Advising and supporting foreign lawyers in cross-border and international proceedings
  • Putting clients in contact with a communications advisor (“litigation PR”)
International Trade Law
  • Developing and installing, or reviewing existing, export control and compliance systems within a company
  • Providing assistance with contract negotiations and with the drafting of contracts with partners/customers in Germany and abroad and advising on how to finance and process payments from foreign transactions
  • Assisting with approval or objection procedures

Key Contact >>

Key Contact

Volker Steimle

Partner

T +49 221 9937 24820