On 1 April, the Groceries Code Adjudicator issued two guidance documents relating to GSCOP; dispute escalation and arbitration.
While there is nothing unexpected in either guidance note, the dispute escalation guidance provides a helpful and timely reminder to suppliers of the ways in which potential GSCOP breaches can be dealt with both informally and formally.
The guidance also emphasises the pragmatic approach adopted by the Groceries Code Adjudicator to date. There is an acknowledgement that there is no merit in involving the Groceries Code Adjudicator where suppliers who feel comfortable contacting the Retailer's Code Compliance Officer can quickly resolve GSCOP issues between themselves.
Of course, GSCOP issues can be resolved at an operational level without the need for either party to approach the Code Compliance Officer.
In addition, the Groceries Code Adjudicator has reiterated that investigations are more likely to be launched where there is evidence of wide-ranging practice that has significant impact across the sector or a segment of it.
Although a supplier will look to arbitration as a last resort given the effect such action will have on the overall relationship with the retailer, the arbitration guidance details the Groceries Code Adjudicator's arbitration policy together with arbitration request forms should this procedure be invoked.
Finally, the Groceries Code Adjudicator is holding her first annual conference in London on 23 June reporting on her first year in office and her plans for the coming year, followed by surgeries with her team on 24 June. If you would like to register your interest to attend, please email Enquiries@gca.gsi.gov.uk.