Developments In The Irish Grocery Sector: Proposed Statutory Code Of Conduct

Author:Ms Fiona McKeever
Profession:Arthur Cox
 
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The Irish Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation recently announced (July 2011) a further consultation on the introduction of a code of conduct for suppliers and retailers operating in the grocery goods sector. This consultation follows the publication of a report by Mr John Travers who had been asked by the Irish Government to consider whether a voluntary code of practice could be agreed between suppliers and retailers operating in the Irish grocery sector. The consultation relates to a statutory code of conduct.

The current consultation process runs until 1 September 2011. It is likely that an enabling provision for a statutory code will be included in revised competition and consumer legislation, a draft of which is due to be published this Autumn.

The 2011 draft code differs significantly from the draft published in Autumn 2009 in a number of areas, including:

The designation of certain grocery goods undertakings by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation ("Minister"). New obligations on designated grocery goods undertakings to incorporate the code in its terms of business, to demonstrate compliance with the code, including the appointment of a Compliance Officer and to satisfy training and reporting requirements. A selective comparison of some of the key features of the two draft codes is illustrated in the following table.

Comparison between the 2009 and 2011 Draft Codes

The 2009 Draft Code

The 2011 Draft Code

"Grocery goods means any food or drink for human consumption that is intended to be sold as groceries, and includes:

Any substance or thing sold or represented for use as food or drink for human consumption Any substance or thing sold or represented for use as an additive, ingredient or processing aid in the preparation of food or drink for human consumption Intoxicating liquors Grocery goods do not include food or drink served or supplied on a grocery goods undertaking's premises in the course of providing catering, restaurant or take-away services or intoxicating liquor served or supplied for consumption on a grocery goods undertaking's premises or any similar hospitality services."

Grocery Goods definition remains the same

Grocery Goods Undertaking (GGU) means an undertaking engaged for gain in the production supply or distribution of grocery goods, including those not involved in direct selling to the public.

Definition of GGU remains the same.

GGUs with an annual turnover of more than €50 million...

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