The purpose of trade cooperations, buying syndicates, marketing groups or buying alliances is to provide economic support for their members, who are usually cooperatives. They were mostly founded as cooperatives to pool joint purchasing, but have increasingly evolved into marketing cooperatives against the backdrop of the digital transformation. As early as 2009, the approximately 320 cooperative groups purchased goods worth 180 billion euros for their members. Little known to the traditional consulting world, due to their cooperative obligations and medium-sized tradition with a high number of members or affiliated companies, cooperative groups have special needs that sometimes differ significantly from those of (listed) individual companies.
For many years, WGW has been advising some of the largest cooperative groups in terms of cooperative turnover and knows the structurally determined special needs of these "silent giants" in detail. Through years of expertise and support, we have the necessary wealth of experience and knowledge to successfully implement our expertise in the individual disciplines, even in the special context of affiliated groups. In doing so, we not only take into account the interests of the group headquarters, but also always analyze the effects on the affiliated companies.
WGW advises trade cooperations, affiliated groups and buying syndicates on all legal issues, in particular with regard to the provision of digital services, participation in (multi-level) central regulation and general legal issues. In addition, we also support and advise affiliated companies and members of affiliated groups in the successful day-to-day management of their business.
WGW has been highly specialized in consulting for the abovementioned-groups for several decades. The consulting expertise extends to all industries. In its consulting services, WGW takes into account the special features of affiliated groups and their obligations and rights vis-à-vis members, shareholders and trading partners, as well as the individual structures of affiliated groups. There are considerable liability risks for affiliated groups with centralized content such as website, online store and kiosk systems as well as in the area of print media.
WGW advises on such projects from the outset, with the aim of ensuring that alliance groups offer their members centralized services on the basis of contractual modules and that the services can be played out in a legally compliant manner. This includes the examination and negotiation of service providers with affiliated groups who wish to make their services available to the members of the affiliated group. Here, too, there is a risk of liability for the members of the association group. WGW draws up contracts and general terms and conditions that take these risks into account.
The core of our consulting services for trade cooperations is the creation and adaptation of central regulation and invoicing systems. This not only involves a high degree of legal complexity due to the respective different legal relationships between the trade cooperation and members. In addition, antitrust and financial law requirements must also be taken into account.
Based on WGW's experience in exchanges with the German Federal Cartel Office and BaFin, WGW can offer practical, legally compliant solutions.
A challenge familiar to many trade cooperations is securing the chain of rights for intellectually protected content such as image material, product descriptions and software solutions. Unlike property and real estate, there is no "bona fide acquisition" of intellectual property rights. If the chain of rights in the relationship between the trade cooperation and the author is not sufficiently legally sound or incomplete, a risk of claims by authors might directly arise against the members.
By implementing legally compliant content management systems, the liability risk of association groups can be significantly reduced. WGW supports trade cooperations in particular in setting up appropriate content management databases. In addition, the protection of trade cooperations through sufficiently resilient contracts with creative service providers such as photographers, models, creative agencies and software providers forms an integral part of content management systems.
In the case of warning letters, WGW specializes in minimizing damages for trade cooperations on the basis of its out-of-court and court expertise and settling them without damaging the image.
From the negotiation of the contract with the IT service provider to the implementation of legal documents of the affiliated companies, WGW advises marketplace systems of trade cooperatios in a practice-oriented manner and with years of experience. Already in the context of the implementation of a marketplace, comprehensive regulations on sufficient rights of use are necessary so that the affiliated company can also be connected in a copyright-compliant manner. This requires, among other things, a connection to the merchandise management systems. In a second step, the contract module with the connection house must be mapped in a legally compliant manner. In a final step, WGW maps the legally compliant trade of the affiliated companies vis-à-vis end consumers in a legally compliant manner by creating sample GTCs, privacy policies and other legally required documents. This also includes ongoing advice on newsletter and discount campaigns.
In addition, WGW takes into account the regularly tightening regulations for marketplaces on an ongoing basis (P2B Regulation, Packaging Act, Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act, etc.).
WGW's consulting expertise also extends to legal advice on purchasing pools planned between several buying syndicates or trade cooperations. In this context, antitrust issues are to be evaluated with priority, taking into account the applicable market share thresholds. If necessary and reasonable, we involve the German Federal Cartel Office.
Based on our many years of experience, we support trading partners, members and shareholders of trade cooperation in their legal affairs, irrespective of the industry. These services can be offered to trade groups as an additional central service. In addition to the provision of a central service hotline, which members can use to contact WGW, attractive overall packages can be offered for focused advice.
This can include, for example, the provision of various sample legal documents, general terms and conditions, privacy policies and other legal documents as a central service. By way of example, we can offer affiliated groups advice to their members on the following areas of law:
- Sales law, law governing contracts for work and services, law governing services/project business
- Warranty law, product liability law, guarantee agreements
- IT law
- Antitrust law
- Distribution law
- Trademark law
- Competition law
- Copyright and media law/design
- Data protection
- Tenancy law (esp. commercial)
- Insolvency law