Question to the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Mr. Richard Bruton, TD)
To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the circumstances in which it is permissible for wholesale suppliers to refuse to supply their products to certain retail outlets; if there are laws precluding such measures that aim to distort open competition; the remedies available to businesses affected by such practices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer
For WRITTEN ANSWER on 21, April, 2015.
Commercial relationships between firms at different levels of the supply chain, such as wholesalers and retailers, are governed in the first instance by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) Declaration in respect of Vertical Agreements and Concerted Practices and, more generally, under section 4 of the Competition Act 2002, which prohibits anti-competitive agreements between undertakings. Under competition law, wholesalers may refuse to supply retailers for a wide range of legitimate reasons and there is no general obligation under that Act whereby a wholesaler must, in all circumstances, fulfil supply requests from retailers. Legitimate refusals to fulfil such requests may benefit from the exemptions from competition law set out in the Declaration, and in section 4(5) of the Competition Act 2002. Refusals to supply, which arise pursuant to an agreement between competitors, or as part of a dominant firm’s strategy to remove a competitor from the marketplace, may give rise to concerns under competition law, although such cases are invariably very specific.
If the Deputy is aware of matters that may require investigation, he should refer any specific complaints directly to the CCPC. Investigations and enforcement matters generally are part of the statutory function of the CCPC and I, as Minister for Jobs Enterprise and Innovation, have no direct role in the matter.