Following a tender process run by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE), on 11 October 2023, the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs approved the New Zealand Dispute Resolution Centre Limited (NZDRC) to deliver a dispute resolution scheme for the grocery industry (the approved scheme) under the Grocery Industry Competition Act 2023 (the Act).
About the Scheme
The approved scheme will have jurisdiction to resolve disputes up to $5 million between regulated grocery retailers (currently Foodstuffs North Island Limited, Foodstuffs South Island Limited and Woolworths New Zealand Limited) and suppliers in relation to the grocery supply code or between regulated grocery retailers and wholesale customers in relation to the wholesale access regime under the Act. All regulated grocery retailers must comply with the rules of the approved scheme.
Under the Act, before NZDRC can issue the rules of the approved scheme, the rules need to be approved by the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. The Minister may approve the rules only after they have consulted with the Commerce Commission and if satisfied that the persons or the representatives of the persons that the Minister considers will be substantially affected by the approved scheme (relevant stakeholders) have been consulted. The consultation page will be housed on the NZDRC website: www.nzdrc.co.nz/grocery-dispute-resolution-consultation.
NZDRC will undertake the consultation on its proposed rules with relevant stakeholders before applying to the Minister to approve the rules. The consultation is expected to begin around the end of November and the period for making submissions will make allowance for the Xmas/New Year period.
John Green, Director of the New Zealand Dispute Resolution Centre commented, “We are delighted to be working with the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs and the inaugural Grocery Commissioner, Pierre van Heerden, to address an area that affects every New Zealander. We are looking forward to consulting with key stakeholders to ensure that they have full opportunity to review the Scheme’s proposed rules.”
He continued, “The New Zealand Dispute Resolution Centre is the leading provider of commercial dispute resolution services in Aotearoa New Zealand. We have over 30 years’ experience designing and delivering dispute resolution processes and services as an alternative to court proceedings.”