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Can a franchise agreement be changed once I’ve signed it?
Absolutely not. Once you enter into a franchise agreement it is written in stone for the duration of the agreement. It is just about conceivable (although extremely unlikely) that a provision in the franchise agreement would specifically enable a franchisor to amend one or more provisions of the franchise agreement. Because franchise agreements are longterm commercial agreements lasting usually, at least, five years, franchisors do seek to have an element of flexibility through their operations manual. Unusually for a commercial contract, the contractual terms between the franchisor and its franchisees are not only set out in the legal agreement itself but also in the franchisor’s operations manual. The operations manual can be altered during the term of the franchise, but the manual only deals with operational issues. In other words, the franchisor cannot alter the terms of the franchise agreement by altering the operations manual. Additionally, when a franchisee comes to renew the franchise agreement franchisors can normally require the franchisee to enter into the franchisor’s then standard franchise agreement which could, of course, be substantially different to the franchise agreement which the franchisee initially entered into.
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