The Supermarkets Code of Practice has been in place for a number of years, yet it is difficult to recall more than a single instance when a supplier has lodged a formal complaint to the OFT about specific abuses. The most celebrated case involved Ferndale Foods, which appealed to the OFT following its delisting by Asda two years ago. This week we discovered the OFT has still not resolved the case (see p4). Yet a quick read of the Code helps to explain the slow pace not only of the OFT's investigation of this case but of the Competition Commission inquiry itself. One would love to know what keywords will be employed by the software that Peter Freeman and his team will use to read the estimated 11 million emails and to listen to the thousands of (landline-only) phonecalls involving Asda and Tesco and their respective suppliers in retrospective discounting allegations (see analysis, p24). But having read through the Code again, there is lots of room for interpretation. The Code connects supermarket behaviour with the phrases 'reasonable', 'reasonably' or 'not unreasonably' on 20 occasions. It also talks about supermarkets using their 'best endeavours'. What is or isn't 'reasonable' is often unspecified. That allegations of 'retrospective discounting' have come to light more than midway through a two-year inquiry feels very significant. The constant refrain is that suppliers are too frightened to speak out. But the timing of these allegations suggests either that a) this type of behaviour is rare or non-existent; b) suppliers are genuinely frightened but someone has been pushed over the edge by the latest price war; or c) someone has been very careless. Either way, the inquiry just got very interesting.