Maine 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 Maine’s laws protecting independent manufacturers’ sales representatives, as of January 1, 2023.
The Maine Sales Representative Commission Contracts Act
Maine Statutes, 10 M.R.S.A. § 1341
As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following meanings.
1. Commissions. “Commissions” means compensation accruing to a sales representative for payment by a principal, the rate of which is expressed as a percentage of the amount of orders or sales.
2. Principal. “Principal” means a person, partnership, corporation or other business entity that does not have a permanent or fixed place of business in this State and that:
A. Manufactures, produces, imports or distributes a product for wholesale;
B. Contracts with sales representatives to solicit orders for the product; and
C. Compensates the sales representative, in whole or in part, by commission.
3. Sales representative. “Sales representative” means a person who:
A. Contracts with a principal to solicit orders for the purchase at wholesale of the principal’s product;
B. Is compensated, in whole or in part, by commission; and
C. Does not place orders or purchase for that person’s own account or for resale.
Maine Statutes, 10 M.R.S.A. § 1342
Unless a contract between a sales representative and a principal provides otherwise, a party terminating the contract must give the other party 14 days’ written notice of the termination.
Maine Statutes, 10 M.R.S.A. § 1343
If a contract between a sales representative and a principal is terminated, the principal shall pay to the sales representative all commissions accrued under the contract within 30 days after the effective date of that termination. Any provision of any contract between a sales representative and a principal that purports to waive any provision of this chapter is void.
Maine Statutes, 10 M.R.S.A. § 1344
1. Principal liability. A principal who fails to comply with the provisions of section 1343 is liable to the sales representative in a civil action for exemplary damages in an amount that does not exceed 3 times the amount of commissions due the sales representative, plus reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.
2. Frivolous action. When the court determines that an action brought by a sales representative against a principal under this chapter is frivolous, the sales representative is liable to the principal for attorney’s fees actually and reasonably incurred by the principal in defending the action and court costs.
3. Other remedies. Nothing in this chapter invalidates or restricts any other right or remedy available to a sales representative, or precludes a sales representative from seeking to recover in one action on all claims against a principal.
4. Jurisdiction. A principal who is not a resident of this State that contracts with a sales representative to solicit orders in this State is declared to be transacting business in this State for purposes of the exercise of personal jurisdiction over nonresidents under Title 14, section 704-A.
Maine, 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 Maine sales rep attorney may be appropriate.
If you are interested in the sales representative statutes of other states, click here to view our sales representative statute survey page.
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.