Guidance on Refusal to Supply

Can a supplier refuse to supply me with goods or services?

A refusal to supply does not necessarily constitute a breach of the Competition Act 2002 (the Act). In general firms should be able to contract with parties of their choice; there is no compulsory requirement under law for a firm to supply.

What are the normal reasons for refusing to supply?

Firms may refuse to supply for all sorts of legitimate business reasons, e.g., non-payment for goods, unauthorised altering of goods, non-compliance with the firm’s criteria for selective distribution, shortage of stocks, supply has been disrupted, etc. In these situations, the refusal to supply may be as a result of a commercial dispute and likely falls outside the remit of the Act.

Firms may also refuse to supply for other reasons that do not appear to have a commercial or business rationale e.g., I would rather Steve handle my Dublin distribution than Mary because I was on the debating team with him. Again such refusals to sell reflecting the views/tastes of the supplier would likely fall outside the remit of the Act.

Can a refusal raise competition law concerns?

It can be the case that the underlying reason for a refusal to supply you with goods is, for example, to eliminate you as a retailer competing vigorously on price. This may raise competition issues.

Would you like more detail?

Each year we receive numerous complaints about refusals to supply. Due to the large number of these complaints, we published a Guidance Note on this topic in order to assist complainants and businesses. The note sets out a variety of forms of conduct and presents some straightforward examples for reference. Read our guidance note on refusal to supply.

However, if you have read the guidance and still feel strongly about being refused supply you can contact us.

Return to Guidelines for Business

Haven’t found what you’re looking for?