On 17 October 2022, the Ninth Commercial Court of Appeal in Moscow upheld the decision to dismiss the claims of food distributor Palmira Volga, in a case concerning recovery of more than RUB 730 million in "under-received discounts" and "incentive payments" provided by the distributor to retail outlets from one of Russia's leading brewing companies, AB InBev Efes JSC.
The case has a fundamental importance for the entire Russian FMCG market and further development of relations between manufacturers and distributors, as EPAM team managed to prevent unfair use of the well-established pattern of interaction between counterparties, used both in Russia and globally.
In 2020 the distributor filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer for recovery of debts under a marketing services agreement, claiming that it had not received a 'discount' on the sales of beer products, which, in the distributor's view, the manufacturer was obligated to provide. Refuting the distributor's claims, EPAM litigation practice team managed to prove and anchor key imperative for the wholesale trade industry: it is unacceptable to receive unjust enrichment in the form of excessive discounts at the expense of manufacturers.
Vera Rikhterman, EPAM Partner leading the case, stated: "The judgment in the AB Inbev Efes case is significant for all business areas operating under the distribution model as it protects rights of manufacturers and prevents distributors from making "super profits" by selling products to end consumers at a reduced price and refunding the "discounts" at the expense of the manufacturer. In addition to the landmark economic impact on the market, the court rulings support the crucial approach established in disputes involving major companies: the distributor has no "right to claim" a discount, since it is granted at the manufacturer's will, as well as on the legal allocation of risks between counterparties in similar contracts".
The team working on the project was led by Partner Vera Rikhterman and included lawyers from EPAM's Litigation Practice: Senior Associate Alexey Artemenko, Associates Alexandra Mednikova and Dmitry Konovalov and Junior Associate Larisa Garmashova.
The project was recognized as one of the most significant court cases of 2022 according to Kommersant Publishing House in the "commercial disputes" category.