Conkle, Kremer & Engel attorney Eric Engel was pleased to have been invited for a return engagement to present to the Electronic Representatives Association for Southern California, at the ERA SoCal Owners’ Forum in Carlsbad on April 6, 2016. ERA is the international association of professional manufacturers representatives firms and electronics industry manufacturers who use independent sales reps. ERA’s member firms sell more than $40 billion annually in electronics products for thousands of manufacturers in industries ranging from consumer to military and aerospace. ERA SoCal is one of the most proactive chapters in ERA, covering Central California through Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, and extending into Southern Nevada and Mexico. ERA SoCal sponsors frequent events to promote, educate and protect manufacturer’s representatives.
The theme of this ERA SoCal roundtable forum was “Strengthening Your Hand,” and featured Eric’s presentation on ways that business owners can improve their contracts, business relations and collection rates. The focus was on avoiding disputes that can lead to litigation, and being prepared to present a strong hand if a dispute does arise.
The open forum included many thoughtful questions and comments by business owners, who shared their industry experiences and challenges they have faced. In addition to outlining important terms that should be included in written contracts, discussion also concerned the application of the Independent Wholesale Sales Representatives Contractual Relations Act, California Civil Code §§ 1738.10 et seq., a “pro-representative” law in California that requires manufacturers to have a signed written contract with sales reps, and provide written accountings with every payment of commissions. When a manufacturer willfully fails to comply with requirements of the Act, the sales rep agency is entitled to “treble damages” – three times the unpaid commissions – plus attorney fees.
Eric has handled commission matters for many years, and was lead trial attorney in Reilly v. Inquest Technology. The Reilly case was the first precedent in California that enforced the full remedy of treble damages under the Act, resulting in $2.1 million jury verdict becoming a judgment for $6.2 million, plus attorney fees and interest. ERA and its partner organization, Manufacturers’ Agents National Association (MANA), were important sponsors of the Act and similar legislation enacted in about 36 other states to protect the rights of independent wholesale sales representatives. CK&E is proud to be able to help sales representatives create contracts that protect their rights to be paid for their services, and to help them enforce their rights when disputes arise.