One of the key requirements under the Consumer Protection Act 2007 (Grocery Goods Undertakings) Regulations 2016 (the Grocery Regulations), which came into force from 30 April 2016, is that retailers and wholesalers to whom the Grocery Regulations apply have until 29 July 2016 to undertake the following:
- Designate and train appropriate members of staff to be responsible for compliance with the new Grocery Regulations and for raising awareness about the Grocery Regulations throughout the organisation; and
- Appoint a liaison officer to liaise with the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (the CCPC) and notify the CCPC of the name and contact details of the liaison officer. This individual must submit, on behalf of the retailer or wholesaler, a compliance report to the CCPC by 31 March each year and keep and maintain certain documents and records. Failure to comply may leave the organisation open to prosecution proceedings or a contravention notice.
The Grocery Regulations apply to wholesalers and retailers engaged in the wholesale or retail of grocery goods in Ireland (described as “relevant grocery goods undertakings”) that have, or are part of a group of related undertakings that has, an annual worldwide turnover exceeding €50 million (this turnover figure excludes any turnover generated for products other than relevant food or drink).
“Grocery goods” are defined as food or drink that is intended to be sold for human consumption and includes certain additives, ingredients, processing aids and intoxicating liquors but does not apply to food or drink served or supplied on the premises of a retailer or wholesaler or as a part of providing catering, restaurant or take-away services or any similar hospitality services or intoxicating liquor served or supplied for consumption on the premises of a retailer or wholesaler.
In addition to the requirements above, the Grocery Regulations include the following key provisions:
- All terms and conditions of “grocery goods contracts” to which a relevant wholesaler or retailer are party must now be expressed in clear understandable language and recorded in writing. Practically speaking “grocery goods contracts” entered into on or after 30 April 2016 or entered into before 30 April 2016 which are renewed on or after 30 April 2016 are within the scope of the Grocery Regulations.
- A copy of the contract must be signed and retained by the supplier and the relevant wholesaler or retailer.
- In certain circumstances, the variation, termination or renewal of contracts can no longer be unilaterally carried out by relevant wholesalers or suppliers.
- Relevant wholesalers and retailers are obliged, unless the contract provides otherwise, to make payments to suppliers within the later of 30 days of receipt of an invoice or the delivery of the goods.
- Restrictions are imposed in certain circumstances in relation to certain practices including:
- the seeking of payments/benefits as a condition of stocking, displaying or listing goods; and
- the seeking or compulsion of payments/benefits for promotions, marketing costs, shelf positioning/allocation, advertising or display of goods, wastage and shrinkage.
For further information on the Grocery Regulations including information on enforcement sanctions and penalties for non-compliance, click here.