Whose side is the Groceries Code Adjudicator on?

Tuesday 17th February 2015

On Friday, The Grocer reported that lawyers have warned suppliers that Groceries Code Adjudicator Christine Tacon could be “forced to ‘drag’ food company bosses in front of her to give evidence against Tesco”. The industry magazine does not, however, explain which lawyers have warned which suppliers or where the story has come from.

Ambiguity aside, it is unclear how the Groceries Code Adjudicator would have the power to “drag” or demand evidence of any supplier. There is no express power to do so in The Groceries (Supply Chain Practices) Market Investigation Order 2009, the provisions of the Groceries Supply Code of Practice (‘GSCOP’) or the Groceries Code Adjudicator Act 2013, for that matter, and with good reason: it was not meant to be. GSCOP was not intended to be used as a stick to beat suppliers with, irrespective of whether or not suppliers’ evidence would be helpful to the Adjudicator’s investigation.

The Groceries Code Adjudicator should, therefore, make sure it is on solid ground if it intends to attempt to force suppliers to provide information or help the Adjudicator with its investigation. After all, suppliers want to feel like the Adjudicator is on their side. Forcing them to provide evidence on points which may not be an issue for such suppliers is unlikely to achieve that goal.

For more information in relation to GSCOP or supply contracts, contact our Retail experts, Andy Brian on 0113 227 0354 or at andy.brian@gordonsllp.com or Mark Jones on 0113 227 0297 or at mark.jones@gordonsllp.com.