Press coverage has portrayed an ombudsman as a robust and proactive enforcer of the code, investigating and punishing transgressions by multiple retailers, but the detail suggests he/she would also assist with retailer compliance.
In his recommendation, Competition Commission chairman Peter Freeman points out that an ombudsman would be the most appropriate body to act as the arbiter for disputes arising from the code of practice. Furthermore, the Commission's voluntary undertakings outlined a role for an ombudsman in preparing guidance to help retailers comply with the code.
If grocers face a struggle to put the provisions in place, then a properly constituted ombudsman, rather than the caricatured version that some retailers say will add cost and bureaucracy, may well provide the best mechanism to help buying teams navigate their way through the new code.
Terry Jones, head of government affairs, NFU