For over a decade, Massachusetts craft brewers have been fighting to change the Massachusetts Beer Franchise Law as it directly impacts their success. The Law makes it extremely difficult for a brewer to escape a contract with a distributor. Once a brewer and a distributor establish a relationship for at least six months, a brewer must show good cause to terminate the agreement, which can be extremely time-consuming, cumbersome, and costly. There is no written or oral agreement requirement, and the statutory provision can take effect without the knowledge of either party. Thus, an up-and-coming brewery without knowledge of the statute may think it is just testing out the waters with a distribution company and can end up stuck working with that company indefinitely. The problems arise when a brewer is unhappy with a distributor and cannot do anything about it.
The Massachusetts Beer Franchise Law is meant to protect small distributors from large breweries. The legislation did not take into account the negative effects that could arise if the industry dynamic were to change. Now, it is the small brewers that need protection from large distributors. This Note discusses the negative impacts of static statutory solutions and proposes new, dynamic statutory provisions to resolve the ongoing conflict created by the Massachusetts Beer Franchise Law. Additionally, this Note considers non-legislative protections such as contractual provisions a brewer might consider when entering into a distribution agreement.
Frederickie A. Rizos, CONTRACT LAW—BREWING A SOLUTION: AN ARGUMENT FOR FAIRNESS IN MASSACHUSETTS BEER FRANCHISE LAWS, 43 W. New Eng. L. Rev. 47 (2022), https://digitalcommons.law.wne.edu/lawreview/vol43/iss1/3