The Claimant (Abbott) had been in business as a commercial agent in the fashion trade for approximately 43 years.
Abbott retired in December 2000 aged 65 and a half.
Abbott had had a contract with Condici for 18 years and with the second defendant for 5 years.
Abbott informed both Defendants that he wished to retire and claimed compensation from both defendants under regulation 18(b) of the Commercial Agents (Council Directive) Regulations 1993.
The case hinged upon the meaning regulation 18(b)(ii), the circumstances in which a commercial agent can claim compensation when he has himself terminated the agency contract and when this would be justified on the grounds of age.
The Claimant argued that he was entitled to compensation when the reason for the termination of his agency was that he had reached the age recognised in the UK as an appropriate retirement age.
The Defendants argued that simply reaching retirement age by itself would not provide justification for a compensation payment, instead the individual circumstances must be considered and whether the agent, in consequence of his age could not reasonably be expected to continue his activities. In the present circumstances, the Claimant was still fit and healthy.
Judge Mackie found in favour of the Claimant.
Mackie felt that the regulations must be construed in context to give effect to the intention and purpose of the directive.
Whilst the reference to age was not explicitly to retirement, he felt it was plainly a reference to that concept.
Age is distinct from illness and infirmity, as if an agent had to show illness or infirmity the independent limb of age would serve no purpose.
Age alone is a trigger for the application of the test of reasonableness. If the age is a reasonable retirement age, than the Claimant does not, in practice, have to prove much more.
In general terms an agent can not reasonably be required to continue his activities beyond what is recognised to be his or her appropriate retirement age.
Written by Jane Elliot