There is provision in relation to the regulation of practices and agreements in the grocery goods sector. The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation may make regulations in relation to certain aspects of the commercial relationships between grocery goods undertakings, having regard to certain specified considerations. The Minister may issue guidelines on the regulations.
The regulations may deal with
- the form of contract to be entered, the circumstances in which it may be varied, terminated and renewed
- the circumstances in which contracts for the supply and delivery of grocery goods may be determined
- the manner in which terms, including those for payment of goods, are to be incorporated;
- the manner in which payment for resolution of customer complaints may be determined between grocery goods undertakings;
- the conditions under which retailers may or may not require suppliers to obtain goods or services or property from a third-party, where the retailer obtains any payment for such arrangement
- provisions regarding delays and failures due to circumstances outside the control of a parties
- limitation of the circumstances in which payment may be sought from a grocery good undertaking for shrinkage, wastage and marketing costs;
- circumstances in which grocery goods undertaking may or may not charge a consideration for listing grocery goods
The regulations may set out
- the manner in which forecasts for the supply of grocery goods are to be prepared and communicated;
- the circumstances in which relevant grocery goods undertaking may or may not seek payment from a supplier to secure better positioning or an increase in the allocation of shelf space for that supplier’s goods
- prohibition of a grocery goods undertaking from directly or indirectly compelling a grocery goods undertaking to make payment or consideration for the promotion or advertisement of grocery goods on the party’s premises
- provisions regarding the promotion of grocery goods
- limitations on compelling grocery goods undertakings to participate in promotions or similar activities;
- arrangements for the preparation of an annual compliance report in respect of the regulations by the grocery goods undertaking and for submission to the authority;
- maintenance of records and periods for which records are kept;
- the manner and timeframe in which payments for grocery goods are to be made;
- designation and training arrangements for staff in relation to compliance documents which must be retained by the undertaking.
The regulations may only apply to contracts entered after the date of operation, and entry into effect of the regulations.
There is provisions for investigation of compliance on the part of grocery undertakings by the Commission and for monitoring of compliance with the regulations. Where the Commission has reasonable grounds for believing that the grocery goods undertaking has failed to comply with the regulations, it may investigate the potential breach.
It may investigate any complaints received in relation to such failure. The Commission may make preliminary inquiries for the purpose of deciding whether an investigation is appropriate. It may request the complainant to provide further written particulars of the complaint. The Commission may decide to discontinue any investigation if the requisite information is not supplied.
There is a provision for the issue of a contravention notice by the Commission where it is of the opinion that the relevant grocery goods undertaking is contravening any provisions of regulations made. An authorised officer may issue a contravention notice requiring remediation of the contravention specified. There is provision for appeal by the undertaking against the contravention notice.
Failure to comply with a contravention notice is an offence. Failure to comply with the regulations is an offence. It may be prosecuted summarily or on indictment. There is provision for continuing fines where the offence continues. The fine on summary conviction is up to €3,000 or six months in prison or equivalent. There are fines for subsequent offences of €5000 and 12 months, respectively. On indictment, the fines are respectively €60,000 and €100,000, with the possibility of imprisonment for 18 months or 24 months in each case.
Any person who is aggrieved by failure to comply with the relevant grocery goods undertaking of any regulations or with the compliance notice has a right of action against the relevant grocery goods undertaking in the Circuit Court.
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