Mercantile agent is the special agent, who in the normal course of its business has the right to sell goods, to send goods for sale, to buy goods or to collect money to secure goods on behalf of its client. To make the definition clearer – the mercantile agent is a person who has been received some goods or documents of title in the capacity of mercantile agent (not in any other private capacity). However that words do not define all the meanings of mercantille agent.
Types of mercantile agents
List below presents a different types of the mercantile agents.
The perfect example for other meanings of mercantile agent is a factor. The factor belongs to wider definition of a general mercantile agent. He is employed to sell goods on behalf of his principal. In conditions that are adjusted for him he does not have control from anyone in selling goods. Due to that fact he has a wide authority and also freedom in selling products under such conditions as he deems appropriate. Of course he has many functions on behalf of his employer such as receiving the delivery of products or receiving the price for the goods he sold.
The broker is a special type of the mercantile agent. He is someone who actually acts like a middleman between the seller and the buyer. So his role is different than normal mercantille agent, because he has to create a cantractual relationship between the seller and the buyer for the purchase or for the sale of products, securities, shares, properties etc. His works ends when the transaction is completed. Broker usually acts on behalf of the buyer as well as the seller. To sum up, the broker :
- provides connection between the buyer who wants to purchase some specific goods and the seller who wants to sell the same,
- prepares the sales and the bought notes and sends those to the buyer and to the seller (when the two sides agree with each other the terms of cantract are finalised),
- gets a reward for his work (commission).
Therefore, his main duty is to check the terms of contract between principal and the third parties.
The auctioneer is a type of mercantile agent who is resposible for selling goods during the auction on behalf of the principal (seller). An auction sales is a public sales of products, the participants of that are some buyers and only one seller. The auctioneer is kind of a licitation leader. During the auction the auctioneer is primarily the seller's agent, but after the licitation he becomes the purchaser's (winner of the licitation) agent. Last, but not least - the auctioneer has no rights to sell goods of his client by private contract. For his work as well as broker he gets a reward (commission).
- Commission agents
Usually the commission agent is responsible for the sale or purchase of goods on behalf of his client. Such mercantile agent belongs to an undefined class of agents. He tries to acquire buyers for sellers of products and also sellers for the buyers of goods. As well as brokers or auctioneers he receives a commission in return for his work. Those agents are very important when products are going to be purchased from distant markets.
- Forwarding agents
The forwarding agent grants the service of collecting products from his customers and sending them to forwarding (shipping) companies. Due to the fact that the foreign trade procedures are more complicated than the domestic trade procedures, those agents services help producers as well as exporters to a large extent.
- Clarke, M., & Hooley, R., & Munday, R., & Sealy, L., & Tettenborn, A., & Turner, P. (2017). Commercial Law: Text, Cases, and Materials. 394-404.
- Deshpande, A., & Geet, S. (2014) Legal aspects of business. 321-324.
- Noonan, C. (2010). Sales Management.
Author: Paweł Łącki