Progress on remedies
Following the Competition Commission’s formal recommendation to establish Ombudsman to arbitrate on disputes between grocery retailers and suppliers and investigate complaints under the new Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP), the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has announced that it accepts the need for a body to enforce the GSCOP and is currently consulting on what powers the body might have and on who it might be. The Code itself came into force in February 2010.
The CC has also formally recommended to the Department of Communities and Local Government - and the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - that they take the necessary steps to introduce a competition test in planning decisions on larger grocery stores.
In addition the CC has now published a revised draft Controlled Land Order, outlining measures to prevent exclusivity arrangements and restrictive covenants being used by grocery retailers to restrict entry by competitors in order to improve competition in local areas.
The CC has also published a provisional recommendation to the OFT on the choice of software to be used to determine the area covered by each local market.
GSCOP comes into force
The Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP) came into force on Thursday 4 February 2010.
On 18 December 2001, following the Competition Commission’s 2000 report on Supermarkets, undertakings were given by four grocery retailers to abide by the former Supermarkets Code of Practice (SCOP). The Office of Fair Trading has now recommended that the grocery retailers be released from those undertakings. The coming into force of the Groceries (Supply Chain Practices) Market Investigation Order 2009 and the GSCOP has rendered the SCOP and undertakings obsolete and this constitutes a change in circumstances in accordance with section 88(4) of the Fair Trading Act 1973.
The Competition Commission’s Remedies Standing Group has therefore decided that the four grocery retailers that gave undertakings to abide by the SCOP following the Competition Commission’s 2000 report on Supermarkets should be released from those undertakings from 4 February 2010.