The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton has signed initial grocery goods regulations into law, with the aim of making sure that dealings in the grocery sector are fair and sustainable.
According to the new regulations, grocery goods contracts must be in writing, and cannot be changed or terminated without the express consent of both parties. Suppliers can now also require retailers and wholesalers to provide a forecast of goods that will be needed, and must be paid within 30 days.
The regulations include a prohibition on suppliers having to pay to have their products stocked, or for advertising, wastage and shrinkage costs.
The only exception to this rule is if there is a free agreement between both parties, based on a written contract and an objectivement measurement of costs born by the retailer or wholesaler.
Both retailers and wholesalers will also have to designate staff to be responsible for compliance, and will have to submit an annual compliance statement.
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has powers under the Consumer Protection Act 2007 to enforce compliance with these regulations, including a graded system of penalties up to a fine of €100,000 or even two years in prison.
There is also a provision explicitly enabling suppliers to take proceedings for damages the Circuit Court.
Speaking on how the regulations with affect the grocery supply chain, Minister Bruton said, "Relationships will continue to be based on commerce and prices will continue to be set by hard negotiations – this is in the interests of consumers.
"However new legal provisions will require that in future, contracts must be in writing, certain terms must be included, records must be retained for inspection and a compliance statement must be made. These measures together with strong enforcement powers will ensure that these relationships are fair and sustainable."
The new regulations will enter into force on the 30th of April 2016, giving retailers and wholesalers time to make sure their systems and procedures are properly organised to make sure they can comply with the new rules.
© 2016 - Checkout Magazine by Jenny Whelan.