Arkansas Sales Representative Statutes
Independent manufacturers’ sales representatives are typically hired by manufacturers, distributors, and importers to solicit orders for their products from potential customers in designated territories in exchange for a sales commission. Such sales representatives often spend many months or years building up a customer base in their assigned territory and incur substantial up-front sales and marketing expenses that can include travel, lodging, entertainment, and trade show expenses with the hope of generating a stream of future commission income. The sales representative is vulnerable if the principal suddenly terminates their relationship and/or fails to pay all commissions owed to the sales rep.
In response to these concerns, starting in the 1980s and 1990s, many states enacted statutes to protect the interests of these independent manufacturers’ sales representatives. These statutes often:
• Require the sales representative agreement to be in writing;
• Require the principal to provide a copy of the written contract to the sales rep;
• Require the principal to pay the sales rep for all commissions owed promptly following termination (or incur liability for statutory penalties, attorney’s fees, and court costs);
• Strictly limit the circumstances under which the principal can terminate, or fail to renew, a sales representative agreement (e.g., requiring the manufacturer to have “good cause” for termination); and/or
• Prohibit the principal from imposing terms (such as choice of law or exclusive venue provisions) in the sales rep agreement that would effectively require the sales rep to waive its statutory protections under the law.
Thirty-five of the fifty states have enacted some form of sales rep protection legislation.
This article sets forth the text of Arkansas’ laws protecting independent manufacturers’ sales representatives, as of January 1, 2023.
The Arkansas Sales Representatives Act
Arkansas Statutes, A.C.A. § 4-70-301
As used in this subchapter, unless the context otherwise requires:
(1) “Commission” means compensation paid a sales representative by a principal in an amount based on a percentage of the dollar amount of certain orders for, or sales of, the principal’s product;
(2) “Principal” means a person who:
(A) Does not have a permanent or fixed place of business in this state;
(B) Manufactures, produces, imports, or distributes a product for sale to customers who purchase the product for resale;
(C) Uses a sales representative to solicit orders for the product; and
(D) Compensates the sales representative in whole or in part by commission; and
(3) “Sales representative” means a person who solicits on behalf of a principal orders for the purchase at wholesale of the principal’s product. The term “sales representative” does not include a person who places orders for or purchases the product for his or her own account for resale, or is engaged in door-to-door sales regulated by § 4-89-101 et seq.
Arkansas Statutes, A.C.A. § 4-70-302
(a) A contract between a principal and a sales representative under which the sales representative is to solicit wholesale orders within this state must be in writing and set forth the method by which the sales representative’s commission is to be computed and paid.
(b) The principal shall provide the sales representative with a copy of the contract.
(c) A provision in the contract establishing venue for an action arising under the contract in a state other than this state is void.
Arkansas Statutes, A.C.A. § 4-70-303
If a compensation agreement between a sales representative and a principal that is not in writing is terminated, the principal shall pay all commissions due the sales representative within thirty (30) working days after the date of the termination.
Arkansas Statutes, A.C.A. § 4-70-304
A principal who is not a resident of this state and who enters into a contract subject to this subchapter is considered to be doing business in this state for purposes of the exercise of personal jurisdiction over the principal.
Arkansas Statutes, A.C.A. § 4-70-305
A provision of this subchapter may not be waived, whether by express waiver or by attempt to make a contract or agreement subject to the laws of another state. A waiver of a provision of this subchapter is void.
Arkansas Statutes, A.C.A. § 4-70-306
A principal who fails to comply with a provision of a contract under § 4-70-302 relating to payment of a commission or fails to pay a commission as required by § 4-70-303 is liable to the sales representative in a civil action for three (3) times the damages sustained by the sales representative, plus reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.
Arkansas, like a majority of states, has enacted sales representative legislation. Manufacturers, distributors, and importers typically bear the burden of compliance with these statutes and should ensure that their contracts and activities are consistent with applicable law. Sales representatives may wish to review applicable laws to understand their rights. If the laws of multiple states are involved, compliance with the relevant law may become even more complicated, and legal advice from an Arkansas sales rep attorney may be appropriate.
About the Author
Craig W. Trepanier is a sales representative attorney who handles disputes under the Minnesota Termination of Sales Representatives Act and the laws of other jurisdictions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 612.455.0502. Trepanier MacGillis Battina P.A. is a Minnesota sales representative law firm located in Minneapolis. If you need advice regarding your sales representative agreement, or are having a dispute regarding the termination, non-renewal, or modification of a sales rep agreement or unpaid commissions, please contact us. Mr. Trepanier can represent you in the State of Minnesota. If appropriate, we can co-counsel with an attorney in your jurisdiction to leverage our specialized knowledge of sales rep law.