The national Wine Industry Code of Conduct has been revised to improve how winegrape price disputes are resolved.
Developed jointly by the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA) and Wine Grape Growers Australia (WGGA) in 2008, the updated code comes into force in time for the upcoming 2015 harvest.
WFA Chief Executive Paul Evans said disagreements arose in some transactions between winemakers and winegrape growers from time to time and having disputation procedures in the code was a business safeguard for both parties. Mr Evans said disputes are inevitable but having a code of practice with disputation process would help parties resolve differences without necessarily having to seek expensive legal advice. “Where disputes do occur, the code aims to resolve them as quickly and as amicably as possible and for this reason it makes sense for all wine companies to sign on to the code if they haven’t already done so,” Mr Evans commented.
As part of a wide-ranging review of the code this year, the WFA and WGGA have agreed to extend the time when a dispute over final price can be mutually resolved, from 14 to 60 days, during the harvest period. WGGA Executive Director Lawrie Stanford said this extension would allow growers, during the busy harvest period, to effectively mount and resolve a dispute.
Mr Stanford said it was hoped all disputes would be kept to a minimum this vintage. “In the main, disputes tend to occur around winegrape prices or specifications of winegrape maturity, purity or condition,” he said. “This results in either a price adjustment or rejection of the winegrapes which can lead to sometimes lengthy and expensive disputes.”