Following the Queen's speech to Parliament of 9 May 2012
which announced that the Groceries Adjudicator Bill will be taken
forward in the 2012 – 2013 Parliamentary session,
the Bill was today published in the House of
The proposal for an adjudicator has been slow to take off. The
Competition Commission initially proposed the creation of an
ombudsman to oversee the functioning of the Groceries Code of
Practice (GSCOP) in 2008 following the Competition Commission's
investigation of the grocery sector. The Government announced its
intention to create a monitoring and enforcement body for the GSCOP
in August 2010 and draft legislation was published in May 2011 (see
law now) which proposed the creation of the Groceries Code
The Bill published today has been amended from the draft published
in May 2011 and importantly gives the Adjudicator greater
flexibility in the circumstances in which it can bring an
investigation. The draft retains the requirement that the
Adjudicator may investigate only where it has 'reasonable
grounds to suspect' a breach of GSCOP. The earlier draft Bill
allowed the Adjudicator to consider only information provided by a
supplier and/or information that was publicly available in
considering whether or not to carry out an investigation.
However, the current draft Bill does not include such a restriction
on the information that the Adjudicator may take into account and
will allow third parties, such as trade associations, to bring
complaints to the Adjudicator.
The next reading of the Bill will be on 22 May 2012. Should the
Bill be passed during the 2012-2013 Parliamentary Session, it is
anticipated that the earliest the Adjudicator will be appointed is
sometime in 2014.
Please click here for our briefing note on GSCOP which
provides practical guidance for companies in the sector.
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