Dunnes wins legal dispute over ‘groceries’ definition

ByDavid L. Juliano

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Dunnes Stores has gained a legal dispute from a price cut retail store in an motion in which a Higher Court docket judge was questioned to define what products should be categorized as groceries.

In his judgement Mr Justice Mark Sanfey reported that the phrase “groceries” as contained in a lease agreement at the centre of a dispute in between Dunnes Merchants and the operator of a Mr Value retail store “extends past food stuff or meals products.”

The decide also held that the expression “groceries” features “non-durable consumable house goods which are procured commonly.”

Other merchandise deemed to be groceries by the judge include things like health care merchandise, home and cleansing products pet treatment and pet food rest room toiletries hair treatment products and solutions, detergents washing powder cleansing products shampoos toothbrushes toothpaste kitchen towels and bathroom rolls.

The situation worried the opening of a Mr Rate retail store in the Barrow Valley Retail Park on the Carlow-Laois border the place Dunnes is the anchor tenant in its 65,000 sq. foot premises.

Dunnes claimed that as section of the deal for it to turn into the anchor tenant an exclusivity clause was contained in leases agreements with the holders of other models in the park to stop them from currently being in competitors with the supermarket chain.

Arising out of the opening of the Mr Cost shop in 2020, Dunnes and the retail park landlords, Camgill Property A Sé Ltd, brought proceedings from Dafora Limitless Business and Corajio Endless Trading as Mr Rate Branded Bargains.

Dunnes claimed that in breach of the phrases of its lease the operators Mr Price tag experienced been advertising goods from its outlet, namely groceries, in the retail park that it was not entitled to market.

Represented by Martin Hayden SC, it sought a long term injunction to avert the Mr Price tag outlet marketing specified things.

The restrictive clause contained in the lease, Dunnes claimed, prevented any other lease holder in the park from running as a supermarket, hypermarket, grocery, price reduction foods keep, frozen food stuff outlet, mini foods marketplace, usefulness retail store or any identical premises for the sale of any food, foodstuff solutions or groceries.

The leaseholders of the other units could not market any food, food items solutions or groceries or provide wine, beer or spirits, Dunnes also claimed.

It claimed that Mr Value in breach of the restrictive clause had supplied for sale products which includes biscuits, cakes, sauces, baking items, crisps, nuts, noodles, sweets, drinks, milk, bread, soup, and cereals.

It experienced also made available for sale groceries like washing powders, cleaning products and materials, shower gels, deodorants, shampoos, cosmetics, toothbrushes and toothpaste, kitchen towels and toilet paper.

Dunnes mentioned that it experienced sought the insertion of the restrictive clause in leases for other units in the park as a issue of the chain putting 1 of its stores in the park in excess of 15 a long time ago.

The defendants denied the promises and rejected the categorisation of groceries state-of-the-art by Dunnes.

They claimed Dunnes’ definition of groceries was “self-serving, arbitrary and over-wide, constituting a casual expansion of the use of the phrase ‘groceries to encompass a lot of solution sorts bought in a supermarket which go further than the that means of the phrase groceries as described in the Dunnes lease.

They claimed that the conditions grocery and foodstuff are commonly comprehended to be separate and distinctive groups from confectionary, toiletries, beauty, perfumes and domestic equipment.

The defendants claimed that in general goal of the clause of lease was meant to operate to prohibit a competing supermarket to operate together with the Dunnes Outlets premises.

It was also pleaded that the phrase “groceries” constitutes a time period which is vague and ambiguous to the diploma that it voided the restrictive clause of the lease.

In his judgement wherever he uncovered in favour of Dunnes, Mr Justice Sanfey reported that the term “groceries” is one particular with which every person is acquainted.

He explained that most persons would be snug working with the word and, if asked, would quickly acknowledge its familiarity, and take into consideration that they comprehend its indicating.

The most cursory search of web-sites for supermarkets running in Ireland displays that pretty much all of them provide sale and/or shipping and delivery of “groceries” or “grocery items”.

There can be no doubt as to the popular use of the phrase by vendors significant and small, and the phrases “grocery” or “groceries” are in regular use in a variety of contexts.

“But what does the phrase ‘groceries’ basically suggest?”, the Decide asked.

This, he reported, was the central situation in the situation,.

Even though the term “food stuff or food items products” gave rise to very little controversy, he stated that the circumstance had taken some time to be listened to and experienced associated a number of witnesses, which includes several skilled witnesses, and the making of elaborate and lengthy lawful submissions.

The Court had been urged that the result of the case would have significant implications for leases in other shopping centres in which it is an anchor tenant, and in respect of which identical wording is utilized, he mentioned.

Certainly, both sides contended fiercely for their respective interpretations of the term “groceries”, the choose included.

Mr Justice Sanfey stated that he was contented that Mr Rate is a selection lower price retail store and its presence in the park was not in breach of the restrictive clause.

Nonetheless, the decide claimed that the limitations contained in the lease have been fairly obvious to any one trying to find to trade in the park.

The decide reported that he was pleased that the expression groceries prolonged past food stuff goods.

The court docket was content that the prohibition of the sale of groceries contained in the lease involves non-resilient consumable objects.

However, the use of the phrase groceries gives rise to issues owing to the absence of a definition of the conditions in the lease.

Following a prolonged listening to, the decide claimed that some definition in the lease would have been advantageous.

The choose said he recognized the evidence advanced by Dunnes and mentioned that the justice of the situation demanded that would have the influence of imposing the restrictive covenant.

The defendants, he reported, had “all but approved” that the lease prevented it from advertising foods merchandise.

Having said that, the judge mentioned that as very well as foods goods, the phrase groceries as contained in the clause also applied to no strong consumable household goods.

He reported that if Mr Rate removes all food items products and groceries in compliance with his categorisation it will be in the court’s perspective in compliance with the restrictive covenant.

This would get rid of the menace of competitiveness in the retail park, which the restrictive clause in the lease was intended to deal with, he said.

The choose added that he was guaranteed that the parties could come to a company-like arrangement above any products wherever there is a dispute, instead than vacation resort to additional legal action.

The matter will return before the courtroom at a later on day when ultimate orders will be built in the action.


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