The Government has appointed David Byrne, who formerly served as Attorney General and European Commissioner, as a facilitator to develop a Code of Practice for Grocery Goods Undertakings. David Byrne's role as facilitator will be to:
- consider existing submissions made to the former Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment as part of the public consultation in 2009, as well as the experience of voluntary Codes in other jurisdictions;
- meet with all stakeholders to discuss and ascertain their views on what explicit provisions should be included in any voluntary Code of Practice as well as what format they should take;
- examine and evaluate all suggestions received with a view to drawing-up a draft voluntary Code for consideration by the stakeholders;
- ensure the inclusion of specific provisions in any such voluntary Code relating to
- thresholds for applicability of any such Code,
- enforcement and dispute resolution provisions; and
- how any such enforcement would be funded;
- ensure that any voluntary Code takes account of the interests of consumer and ensure that there is no impediment to the passing-on of lower prices to consumers; and
- endeavour to get agreement from all stakeholders on the provisions of a draft voluntary Code.
This appointment may be seen as an attempt to give effect to the commitment in the Renewed Programme for Government to "implement a Code of Practice for doing business in the Grocery Goods sector to develop a fair trading relationship between retailers and their suppliers" and "to review progress of the Code and if necessary to put in place a mandatory code".
Provision for the introduction of statutory Codes of Practice will be made in legislation which is currently being prepared by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation to merge the National Consumer Agency and the Competition Authority. That legislation is scheduled for publication later this year. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation anticipated that Mr. Byrne will report back to the Minister by early summer with his recommendations.