Franchising updates

Canada

Contributed by Lapointe Rosenstein Marchand Melançon LLP
Cold cut for franchisees! Supreme Court of Canada denies designated supplier's duty of care for pure economic loss
  • Canada
  • 16 February 2021

The Supreme Court of Canada recently dismissed the proposed class action brought by Mr Sub franchisees against Maple Leaf Foods for damages resulting from a listeria outbreak linked to Maple Leaf cold cuts. By ruling in Maple Leaf's favour, the majority of the court found that no duty of care is owed by an exclusive supplier for purely economic losses suffered by franchisees with which the supplier has no direct contractual relationship.

Cutting the red tape: recent amendments to Ontario's franchise disclosure act
  • Canada
  • 24 November 2020

In 2017 the Ontario government enacted the Cutting Unnecessary Red Tape Act with the objective of alleviating unnecessary regulatory burdens for businesses. The act provided for a series of proposed amendments to Ontario's franchise disclosure legislation and ultimately came into force on 1 September 2020. The amendments include measures to clarify the province's franchise laws and temper or delay franchisors' disclosure obligations towards prospective franchisees in certain circumstances.

Surprise! Rescission notice can be served in a pleading
  • Canada
  • 22 September 2020

Ontario's Arthur Wishart Act (Franchise Disclosure) requires franchisors to provide adequate pre-contractual disclosure to potential franchisees, failing which a franchisee may be entitled to rescind its franchise agreement. When properly invoked, rescission by a franchisee imposes extensive obligations on the franchisor. The Ontario Court of Appeal recently dealt with the issue of whether a notice of rescission of a franchise agreement is valid if it is contained within a pleading.

'Special relationship' between franchisors and franchisees: could it give rise to a pre-contractual duty of good faith?
  • Canada
  • 14 July 2020

Common law jurisdictions recognise that certain circumstances could arise that would lead contracting parties to have some type of pre-contractual good-faith obligation, including where they have a 'special relationship' – typically characterised by an imbalance of information. A franchise arrangement has been characterised as an example of such a special relationship that could fall within the narrow set of particular requirements for good faith in the pre-contractual context.

Can good faith require parties to help each other properly exercise their rights?
  • Canada
  • 12 May 2020

It is well known that franchisors have been facing increasing pressure to conduct themselves in accordance with the principles of good faith. A recent Ontario Superior Court case has led to questions with respect to a franchisor's duty to protect its franchisee's right to operate in circumstances where the franchisor is the gatekeeper of rights with respect to a third party. In its decision, the court navigated the duty of good faith owed in respect of the renewal of a head lease between a franchisor and a landlord.


European Union

European Commission's VBER review – what does it mean for franchising?
Fieldfisher LLP
  • European Union
  • 15 September 2020

The EU Vertical Block Exemption Regulation will expire on 31 May 2022 and the European Commission is reviewing its effectiveness to determine whether it should lapse, its duration should be prolonged or it requires revision to take account of market developments since 2010 (most notably with regard to online sales and online platforms). This article explores the process so far and examines what this review means for franchising.

Keeping your trade secrets safe – EU perspective for franchisors
Fieldfisher LLP
  • European Union
  • 15 October 2019

The EU Trade Secrets Directive seeks to harmonise the protection of trade secrets in all EU member states. In general, the implementation of the directive is positive for franchisors, as the protection of trade secrets and confidential information is key to the success of a franchise system. Although franchisors may be able to rely on the statutory definition of 'trade secret' set out under the directive, they should nonetheless continue to ensure that their confidential information is safeguarded contractually.


France

Contributed by Aramis Law Firm
Unfair competition in case of financial support provided by franchisor
  • France
  • 09 March 2021

May franchisors provide financial support to their franchisees through loans or payment periods? This question is of interest as this type of financial support is often provided to franchisees in order to help them set up and run their outlets. In a 2020 decision, the Supreme Court had the opportunity to rule on this question in a lawsuit between Speed Rabbit Pizza and Domino's Pizza France.

Post-term non-compete clauses in franchise agreements becoming more challenging to enforce
  • France
  • 10 November 2020

In practice, non-compete clauses are often enforced in France if they meet the general conditions required for the validity of non-compete clauses under French law. However, this traditionally favourable approach to post-term non-compete clauses in franchise agreements was overturned by the Macron Act 2015 in relation to retail businesses. A recent Paris Court of Appeal decision provides an interesting illustration of this new provision in the retail sector.

Franchisees cannot be classified as employees
  • France
  • 24 March 2020

Some jurisdictions have recently held that certain independent workers (eg, Uber drivers) are actually classified as employees. This raises the question of whether franchisees should also be classified as employees. However, as opposed to a Court of Cassation decision which classified an Uber driver as an employee, a recent decision from the Limoges Court of Appeal seems to clarify that a franchisee cannot be classified as an employee due to the specific features of any franchise contract.

Intercompany financing: alternative financing method for franchisees?
  • France
  • 21 January 2020

The overriding principle which governs credit transactions in France has been relaxed over time in order to allow for, among other things, intragroup financing. Among the more recent derogations to the rules are those of 2015 and 2019, which made it possible for micro and small and medium-sized enterprises to obtain financing from companies with which they have economic links. The relevant implementing decrees make it clear that 'economic links' includes franchise agreements.

Franchisor's change of control and its impact on renewing existing franchise contracts
  • France
  • 17 September 2019

The Paris Court of Appeal recently held that a franchisor had not breached its duty of loyalty towards its franchisee in reorganising its business following its change of control. In the context of an internal business reorganisation, franchisors should therefore be careful in statements that they may make to franchisees, including in the pre-contractual disclosure documentation.


Germany

Contributed by Noerr LLP
Do franchisors and franchisees still have to pay rent during a government-ordered shutdown?
  • Germany
  • 23 March 2021

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still omnipresent in Germany. The courts have yet to resolve some legal issues, including the issue of payment of commercial rent. One example is whether franchisees and franchisors as tenants can reduce or even suspend their rent payments due to widespread government-ordered shutdowns. This article presents a brief summary of the current situation and sets out the implications for the franchise industry in particular.

Appeals court finds clause allowing franchisor to unilaterally increase franchise fee to be invalid
  • Germany
  • 22 December 2020

The Jena Higher Regional Court recently held that a clause which allows a franchisor to adjust the franchise fee at the beginning of each quarter and does not clearly disclose to the franchisee the scope of the fee increase mechanism is in breach of the law regarding general terms and conditions, which applies to standard-form contracts and thus standardised franchise agreements. The decision shows that caution is needed when drafting fee adjustment clauses.

What legal impact has the COVID-19 pandemic had on the franchise sector so far?
  • Germany
  • 06 October 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to significantly affect the franchise sector, along with many others. In May and July 2020 the German Franchise Association issued a guidance document which provided an overview of the COVID-19 Mitigation Act and the associated legal issues specific to franchising. A few months on, this article examines which issues remain the most relevant for franchising practice.

When the asterisk is missing: Munich Higher Regional Court's King of the Month decision
  • Germany
  • 02 June 2020

Special deals are common among competing burger chains. Although this may be detrimental to franchisees, the Munich Higher Regional Court recently decided that such deals do not infringe antitrust rules. This decision deserves particular attention, as it concerns the common situation of a franchisor using non-binding price recommendations in its advertising and once again clarifies how important the asterisk reference is in such cases.

Inadmissible imitation of 'presentation of dishes': stronger protection for gastronomic concepts
  • Germany
  • 13 August 2019

Franchisors must typically consider the extent of concept protection if franchisees which have left the franchise system reuse the concept in a largely unchanged fashion or if third-party competitors (outside the franchise system) copy the concept's main features. A recent decision concerning a fast-food restaurant franchise reinforces the IP protection of gastronomic concepts against competitors' inadmissible imitations.


International

Tell us what you think and you could win a £100 Mastercard voucher
International Law Office
  • International
  • 07 April 2021

This survey is now closed.

Guide to international expansion in the education sector – part two
Fieldfisher LLP
  • International
  • 03 November 2020

School closures, social distancing, remote learning and a reduction in international travel and student exchange for the foreseeable future are all placing a significant strain on businesses in the education sector. Nevertheless, with every crisis comes opportunity. For the education sector, international expansion will be an important way of securing long-term financial viability through the creation of new revenue streams and the development of new edtech innovations.

COVID-19 Weekly Report (4-10 May 2020)
International Law Office
  • International
  • 11 May 2020

The impact of COVID-19 is being felt in almost every work area across the globe. In order to keep readers abreast of this evolving situation, ILO's COVID-19 Weekly Report provides insight into the major legal developments of the past seven days, as well as a round-up of our panel of experienced international legal commentators' legislative and regulatory guidance.

COVID-19 Weekly Report (27 April-3 May 2020)
International Law Office
  • International
  • 04 May 2020

The impact of COVID-19 is being felt in almost every work area across the globe. In order to keep readers abreast of this evolving situation, ILO's COVID-19 Weekly Report provides insight into the major legal developments of the past seven days, as well as a round-up of our panel of experienced international legal commentators' legislative and regulatory guidance.

COVID-19 Weekly Report (30 March-5 April 2020)
International Law Office
  • International
  • 07 April 2020

The impact of COVID-19 is being felt in almost every work area across the globe. In order to keep readers abreast of this evolving situation, ILO's COVID-19 Weekly Report provides insight into the major legal developments of the past seven days, as well as a round-up of our panel of expert international legal commentators' legislative and regulatory guidance.