Unfair business practices
In September 2012, Albert Heijn increased its discount rate towards her suppliers with two percentage points. This behaviour revived the already existing discussion about business-to-business unfair trading practices. Question of research is whether the existing legislation and the pursued self-regulation is sufficient to counter unfair trading practices.
The Dutch Civil Code (Burgerlijk Wetboek) and the Dutch Competition Law (Mededingingswet) offer possibilities but face difficulties in practice. Because of the often dependent position of suppliers towards the retailer, suppliers are hesitant to start a legal procedure. Furthermore, there is uncertainty about which practices are, according to the judge, an infringement of the law. This is the result of the open norms in the Civil Code. Specifically for the Competition Law, it only fights unfair practices by dominant retailers. Establishing a dominant position and its abuse is difficult in practice.
Existing legislation and self-regulation can be complemented with other self-regulation and/or legislation used in other countries. Foreign experience with an article in the Competition Law that forbids the abuse of economic dependency, would not provided a solution in the Netherlands. On the contrary, foreign codes of practice and their enforcement may provide useful addition to Dutch legislation and self-regulation against unfair practices. The open norms can be interpreted in principles of good practice which will lead to more certainty about what is seen as unfair and fair practices.
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