Duties of brokers.
The function of a broker is to facilitate good faith negotiations between parties which lead to valid and binding contracts. A broker who fails to perform any specification or duty, express or implied, in connection with any transaction is in violation of the Act, is subject to the penalties specified in the Act, and may be held liable for damages which accrue as a result of the violation. It shall be the duty of the broker to fully inform the parties concerning all proposed terms and conditions of the proposed contract. After all parties agree on the terms and the contract is effected, the broker shall prepare in writing and deliver promptly to all parties a properly executed confirmation or memorandum of sale setting forth truly and correctly all of the essential details of the agreement between the parties, including any express agreement as to the time when payment is due. The confirmation or memorandum of sale shall also identify the party who engaged the broker to act in the negotiations. If the confirmation or memorandum of sale does not contain such information, the broker shall be presumed to have been engaged by the buyer. Brokers do not normally act as general agents of either party, and will not be presumed to have so acted. Unless otherwise agreed and confirmed, the broker will be entitled to payment of brokerage fees from the party by whom it was engaged to act as broker. The broker shall retain a copy of such confirmations or memoranda as part of its accounts and records. The broker who does not prepare these documents and retain copies in its files is failing to prepare and maintain complete and correct records as required by the Act. The broker who does not deliver copies of these documents to all parties involved in the transaction is failing to perform its duties as a broker. A broker who issues a confirmation or memorandum of sale containing false or misleading statements shall be deemed to have committed a violation of section 2 of the Act. If the broker's records do not support its contentions that a binding contract was made with proper notice to the parties, the broker may be held liable for any loss or damage resulting from such negligence, or for other penalties provided by the Act for failing to perform its express or implied duties. The broker shall take into consideration the time of delivery of the shipment involved in the contract, and all other circumstances of the transaction, in selecting the proper method for transmitting the written confirmation or memorandum of sale to the parties. A buying broker is required to truly and correctly account to its principal in accordance with § 46.2(y)(3). The broker should advise the appropriate party promptly when any notice of rejection or breach is received, or of any other unforeseen development of which it is informed.
(b) Brokerage fees.
A broker is not considered to be entitled to a brokerage fee unless he effects a sale or makes a valid and binding contract, fully performing his duties as a broker. Unless otherwise specifically agreed, the broker does not guarantee the performance of the contracting parties and is entitled to receive prompt payment of the brokerage fee whenever a valid and binding contract is negotiated. Brokerage fees may be charged to only one of the parties to the contract unless by prior agreement the parties agree to split the brokerage fee. If the brokerage fee is charged to both parties without a specific prior agreement, such action by the broker is a violation of the Act. A broker employed to negotiate the sale of produce may not employ another broker or selling agent, including auction companies, without the specific prior approval of his principal. When the broker is authorized to sell, invoice the buyer, collect and remit to his principal, he shall render an itemized accounting to the principal promptly on receipt of payment, showing the true gross selling price, all brokerage fees deducted, any auction charges and any other expenses incurred in connection with the sale of the shipment. The failure to account truly and correctly and make full payment promptly is a violation of the Act.
(c) Broker's responsibility for payment.
In the absence of a specific agreement, a broker is not responsible for payment to the seller by the buyer. Agreement to collect from the buyer and remit to the seller is not a guarantee by the broker that the buyer will pay for the produce purchased, unless there is a specific agreement by the broker that he will pay if the buyer does not pay. A broker who agrees to collect funds from the buyer for his principal shall render an itemized accounting to the principal promptly on receipt of payment showing the true gross selling price, all brokerage fees deducted and all expenses including auction charges, incurred in connection with the sale of the shipment. The failure to account truly and correctly and make full payment promptly is a violation of the Act. While the broker is not obliged to furnish his principal information regarding the financial condition of the buyer, if the broker furnishes such information, he must truthfully report the information available to him, and any false or misleading statements for a fraudulent purpose to the principal to encourage the sale will be a violation of the Act. A buying broker who negotiates a purchase in his own name under an agreement with his principal, is responsible for payment of the purchase price to the seller. A broker has no authority to grant allowances or adjust the seller's invoice price to the buyer without the specific prior approval of his principal.
(d) Purchases and sales by brokers.
A person who operates in a dual capacity, both as a broker and a dealer, shall clearly disclose his status in each transaction to all parties with whom he is dealing. If such a person misrepresents himself as a broker to the buyer or the seller when he is acting as a dealer purchasing produce or selling produce he has purchased, he shall be considered to have violated the Act. When a person purchases or sells produce as a dealer, he shall not request or receive a brokerage fee from the buyer or the seller. A broker shall not negotiate a transaction where the broker is subject to the direct or indirect control of any party to the transaction other than his principal, or where the other party is subject to the direct or indirect control of the broker without fully disclosing the circumstances to his principal and obtaining his specific prior approval.
(e) Filing carrier claims by brokers.
Without prior consent of the owner, a broker has no authority to file claims with carriers in his own name or any other name. A broker has no obligation to file carrier claims for the owners of the shipments. However, when a broker in a transaction receives information valuable to the owner in connection with carrier claim rights, the broker should promptly advise the owner. A broker who agrees to protect the carrier claims of owners shall at all times exercise reasonable care to fulfill such obligation. If a broker makes an agreement with a seller or a buyer to file and handle such a claim for the benefit of the owner of the produce, the claim shall be filed promptly with the carrier, supported by adequate evidence, and he shall take the necessary action to bring the matter to a conclusion. A copy of the claim shall be forwarded to the owner of the shipment when the claim is filed. When settlement of the claim is effected, the broker shall promptly remit the net amount due the owner, after deducting the agreed or customary charges for handling the claim. Adequate information shall be furnished the owner regarding the claim while the matter is being handled with the carrier. If the owner files the claim, the broker shall promptly furnish any necessary information available in his records which is requested by the owner.
[28 FR 7067, July 11, 1963; 28 FR 7287, July 17, 1963, as amended at 37 FR 14561, July 21, 1972; 62 FR 15087, Mar. 31, 1997]