UK: Groceries Code Adjudicator - BIS Announces Long-Awaited Details of GSCOP Enforcer

On 3 August 2010, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) published the government's response to a February 2010 consultation on plans to establish a body to monitor and enforce compliance with the Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP).  On 26 July 2010, a draft BIS Structural Reform Plan had revealed that the enforcement body's title will be "Groceries Code Adjudicator" (GCA) and also set out a broad legislative timetable (see our earlier  Law-Now).  The more recent consultation response document provides more detail on the GCA's likely identity and powers and also indicates how access to the GCA and its procedures may in future operate.

Who will be the Groceries Code Adjudicator?

A GSCOP enforcer or "ombudsman" was originally recommended in the 30 April 2008 Competition Commission groceries market investigation report.  BIS has decided that the role of ombudsman is suited more to redress mechanisms for individuals and that it is more appropriate to describe a body regulating business-to-business relations as an "adjudicator". 

The GCA will be established within the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), but it will have decisional autonomy and will act independently of the OFT Executive. The GCA will, therefore, be separate from the OFT's normal competition and consumer activities. The government believes that, given the OFT's experience in the groceries sector, the GCA can be established within the OFT in a way that makes it effective and robust. This is in line with the 18 May 2010 Coalition Government Programme.

The GCA will not immediately have the power to impose financial sanctions, although the primary legislation to establish the GCA will provide for the possibility of financial penalties being introduced at a later stage if the risk of damage to reputation does not prove to be a sufficient deterrent.

BIS has confirmed its intention (stated in the draft Structural Reform Plan) to publish a draft Adjudicator Bill later this year, ideally in the second Session of Parliament, and to implement primary legislation in November 2012.  BIS has also stated an intention to review the effectiveness of the GCA at least three years into its lifespan.

What will be the GCA's Role?

The GCA's proposed duties can be summarised as follows:

  • To arbitrate in disputes arising under GSCOP between retailers subject to GSCOP and suppliers.
  • To receive complaints alleging GSCOP breaches and where necessary to conduct investigations.
  • To publish reports at the end of investigations.
  • To make recommendations to relevant retailers on how to improve compliance with GSCOP and to monitor the progress of such recommendations.
  • To publish guidance on the operation of GSCOP provisions.
  • To publish an annual report on the operation of GSCOP, including providing details of disputes resolved and investigations undertaken.
  • To promote awareness of its role throughout the supply chain and monitor the sector for any emerging practices which may be problematic under GSCOP.
  • In addition, the GCA should be able to recommend changes to GSCOP.

What will be the Procedures for GSCOP Enforcement?

The government has also provided detail on GCA investigations:

  • Complaints to the GCA must be made within a specific time of the occurrence of the alleged breach.
  • Complaints may be anonymous, but must be evidenced-based.
  • The GCA will not be obliged to investigate every complaint that it receives.  It will act upon receipt of a complaint or on information in the public domain, where there is actual evidence of a potential breach. 
  • Prior to an investigation, the GCA must inform the relevant party concerned of the general nature of the practices that it intends to investigate and, in addition, provide a reasonable time for it to respond.
  • The GCA will be given the powers necessary to require parties to provide information within a reasonable period.  
  • Trade associations, NGOs and other organisations will not be able to bring complaints, which must come direct from the business affected, but will still have a significant advisory role.
  • Complaints can however be brought by overseas suppliers.
  • The GCA will be able to develop its own practices and procedures for investigation, except to the extent that this is provided for in legislation.
  • The GCA must also publish and consult on general information about its own procedures. 

The government conclusion to its consultation process represents welcome and detailed clarity on this important area of legal enforcement for the groceries industry.  The next stage, which should confirm the government's approach, is likely to be a draft bill.

This article was written for Law-Now, CMS Cameron McKenna's free online information service. To register for Law-Now, please go to

Law-Now information is for general purposes and guidance only. The information and opinions expressed in all Law-Now articles are not necessarily comprehensive and do not purport to give professional or legal advice. All Law-Now information relates to circumstances prevailing at the date of its original publication and may not have been updated to reflect subsequent developments.

The original publication date for this article was 04 August 2010.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions