Mikhail Ilyin comments on the article "The retailers’ and suppliers’ swisted games"
20 March 2013
The Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) did not punish the network "Lenta" for imposing additional services on the suppliers. The suppliers themselves are not in a hurry to sue a strategic customer.
The law "On Trade" substantially limits networks in their relationships with suppliers. In particular, the total amount of payments to suppliers for marketing and other services of retail chains cannot exceed 10% of the supply amount. However, retailers usually get around these restrictions.
Checks on the shelves
Verification of the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) of the fulfillment of the law in the Russian retail chains identified violations executed by the “Lenta” by the conclusion of contracts with suppliers of the Southern Federal District (SFD). Two dozen companies were forced to pay a lot of money for the retailer's services. To be mentioned, the contracts were executed in the form of a "one set of documents" – the supply contract plus the service agreement.
For these actions Antimonopoly Service imposed on the "Lenta" a 3 million roubles penalty. However, the Arbitrazh Court of St. Petersburg and Leningrad region rejected the arguments of the supervisory authority, pointing the failure to prove the facts of forcing the suppliers to sign contracts. The representatives of the "Lenta" declined to comment on the decision adopted on March 7, 2013.
This decision allows only even those who violate the law to get away.
"Now, most federal retailers fulfill the requirements of the law”, says Irina Pushkina, managing partner of the group of companies “Version". - But in the regions, local small "grid" force providers to play exclusively by their rules. For example, formally we can deliver products around the store network ourselves, but we have to pay for the services of the retailer’s logistic centre.
The lawyers interviewed believe that suppliers need to examine this issue seriously. "To confirm the violation of their rights the suppliers should appeal against specific conditions imposed”, says Pavel Il’inykh, senior lawyer of the Rightmark group.
According to Mikhail Ilyin from the “S&K Vertical”, Attorneys at Law, the coercion may be proved by means of provocative measures: "In any case from the actions, negotiations, documents, correspondence, should follow that the conclusion of an agreement on provision of additional services is mandatory for the supplier."
According to the Executive Director of the Association of Retail Companies Ilya Belonovskii, the number of disputes between retailers and suppliers is extremely rare.
However, according to the FAS, only last year nearly 300 violations of the law “On trade” were found out, but a significant cases was not opened due to the expiration of the limitation period and other reasons.