The importation and distribution of alcohol within the UK is highly regulated, and the consequences of failing to comply can potentially be serious. Being specialist wine trade lawyers, we are frequently asked to advise on the complexities of the EU and UK regulatory regimes for wine – and, increasingly, for spirits as well.
Regulation of commercial agents
The EU Commercial Agents Directive imposes a mandatory scheme of protection for commercial agents throughout the EEA (the EU Member States plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). In theory, the legal position should be the same in all EEA countries. In practice, there can be significant differences between them. For example, some countries protect agents who supply goods or services, others protect only those who supply goods. Some prescribe longer periods of notice of termination than others. And there are important differences between EEA countries as regards a commercial agent’s entitlement to compensation on termination. This area can be a minefield – it’s essential to understand the practical implications of these differences, whether you’re an importer or a producer.
Regulation of supply agreements with the largest UK supermarkets
The recently implemented Groceries Supply Code of Practice 2010 (GSCOP) is potentially of great benefit to those who supply wine to the UK’s ten largest supermarkets (the “Designated Retailers”). We advise suppliers on how to use GSCOP to develop more satisfactory – and more profitable – relationships with their supermarket customers. Click here to request our free Briefing on How To Use The GSCOP To Your Advantage and we’ll email you a link to download your copy. If you aren’t already on it, you will automatically be added to our e-mailing list for News updates.
Examples of recent work
- Labelling – We have advised individual importers on proposed wine (and spirits) labels, and assisted in obtaining clearance for them.
- EU Commercial Agents Directive – We have advised individual importers on all aspects of the mandatory regime imposed by the EU Commercial Agents Directive.
- Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP) – We have advised importers on the terms of supply agreements for direct sales to major UK retailers, and on training, systems and procedures under the Groceries Supply Code.
- Distance selling and E-commerce – We have advised clients who sell wine to consumers online and by mail order on regulatory compliance with distance selling and e-commerce regulations. This is usually done in conjunction with a review of the client supplier’s Conditions of Sale and related documents.
Other services for Wine Importers
- Agency, Distribution and Other Contracts
- Brands, Joint Ventures and IP
- Termination, Compensation and Disputes