Louisiana 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 Louisiana’s laws protecting independent manufacturers’ sales representatives, as of January 1, 2023.
The Louisiana Sales Representatives Act
Louisiana Statutes, LSA-R.S. 51:441
(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(a) Repealed by Acts 1995, No. 487, § 2.
(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.
(3) “Sales representative” means a person who solicits, on behalf of a principal, orders for the purchase at wholesale of the principal’s product.
(4) “Termination” means the end of services performed by a sales representative for a principal whether by discharge, resignation, or expiration of a contract.
Louisiana Statutes, LSA-R.S. 51:442
If there is a written contract between a principal and a sales representative under which the sales representative solicits wholesale orders within this state, it shall set forth the method by which the sales representative’s commission shall be computed and paid. The principal shall provide the sales representative with a copy of the contract.
Louisiana Statutes, LSA-R.S. 51:443
Upon termination of any written or oral compensation agreement between a sales representative and a principal, the principal shall pay all commissions due the sales representative as specified in the agreement or, if not specified, no later than the thirtieth working day after the date of termination.
Louisiana Statutes, LSA-R.S. 51:444
A judgment or decree issued in any action brought by a sales representative for the payment of commissions by a principal may include payment by the principal of attorney fees and treble damages incurred by the sales representative.
Louisiana Statutes, LSA-R.S. 51:445
A. Any provision in a written or oral contract or agreement providing for the payment of commissions by a principal to a sales representative which purports to establish exclusive venue in a state other than Louisiana is hereby declared to be null and void and against the public policy of this state and such provision shall be void and unenforceable.
B. Any provision in a written or oral contract or agreement which requires waiver of this Section or which would frustrate or circumvent the provisions of this Section shall be null and void and of no force and effect.
C. A principal who is not a resident of this state and who enters into a contract subject to the provisions of this Subpart is considered to be doing business in this state for purposes of the exercise of personal jurisdiction over the principal.
D. The provisions of this Subpart do not invalidate or restrict any other right or remedy available to a sales representative or preclude a sales representative from seeking to recover in one action on all claims against a principal.
Louisiana, 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 a Louisiana 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.