Illinois Sales Representatives’ Commissions 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 Illinois’ laws protecting independent manufacturers’ sales representatives, as of January 1, 2023.
The Illinois Sales Representative Act
Illinois Statutes, I.L.C.S. 120/0.01
§ 0.01. Short title. This Act may be cited as the Sales Representative Act.
Illinois Statutes, I.L.C.S. 120/1.
§ 1. As used in this Act: (1) “Commission” means compensation accruing to a sales representative for payment by a principal, the rate of which is expressed as a percentage of the dollar amount of orders or sales or as a percentage of the dollar amount of profits.
(2) When a commission becomes due shall be determined in the following manner:
(A) The terms of the contract between the principal and salesperson shall control;
(B) If there is no contract, or if the terms of the contract do not provide when the commission becomes due, or the terms are ambiguous or unclear, the past practice used by the parties shall control;
(C) If neither (A) nor (B) can be used to clearly ascertain when the commission becomes due, the custom and usage prevalent in this State for the parties’ particular industry shall control.
(3) “Principal” means a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation or other business entity whether or not it has a permanent or fixed place of business in this State and which:
(A) Manufactures, produces, imports, or distributes a product for sale;
(B) Contracts with a sales representative to solicit orders for the product; and
(C) Compensates the sales representative, in whole or in part, by commission.
(4) “Sales representative” means a person who contracts with a principal to solicit orders and who is compensated, in whole or in part, by commission, but shall not include one who places orders or purchases for his own account for resale or one who qualifies as an employee of the principal pursuant to the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act1.
Illinois Statutes, I.L.C.S. 120/2.
§ 2. All commissions due at the time of termination of a contract between a sales representative and principal shall be paid within 13 days of termination, and commissions that become due after termination shall be paid within 13 days of the date on which such commissions become due. Any provision in any contract between a sales representative and principal purporting to waive any of the provisions of this Act shall be void.
Illinois Statutes, I.L.C.S. 120/3.
§ 3. A principal who fails to comply with the provisions of Section 2 concerning timely payment or with any contractual provision concerning timely payment of commissions due upon the termination of the contract with the sales representative, shall be liable in a civil action for exemplary damages in an amount which does not exceed 3 times the amount of the commissions owed to the sales representative. Additionally, such principal shall pay the sales representative’s reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs.
Illinois, 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 Illinois 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 email@example.com 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.