Before the conclusion of a new franchise agreement, franchisors usually have more knowledge than franchisees about the particular franchise. A franchisee thus risks entering into a permanent binding contract without an accurate prior assessment of the consequences. To counterbalance this information asymmetry, certain duties of care are imposed, of which the franchisor's pre-contractual information obligations are paramount.
Standard form agreements are used regularly in franchising. In principle, contractual freedom applies to such standard form agreements. However, the franchisor must keep in mind certain aspects before submitting a standard form agreement to the franchisee for signing.
For the drafting and implementation of franchise agreements, it is paramount for parties to respect the boundaries of the Act on Cartels and Other Competition Restraints. In all cases, franchisees must ensure that their prices are set independently and franchisors must not restrict passive sales by one franchisee in any market assigned to another franchisee.
Courts must determine whether each franchise relationship is based on all its economic characteristics, or whether it is a partnership franchise or a subordination franchise. A recent court decision provides detailed guidance on how franchise systems may be structured from a business perspective, with a view to avoiding any uncertainty to legal characterisation alternatives.