Harald Ortner, Chairman of the German Council of Shopping Places (GCSP). Credit: GCSP
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Germany: Code of Conduct for the Retail and Commercial Real Estate Industry Completed

Under the guidance of the German Council of Shopping Places (GCSP), renowned representatives of the retail and retail real estate industry formulated a Code of Conduct, over a short period of several days, as a joint guideline for cooperation during the coronavirus crisis.

The GCSP represents the interests of approximately 700 member companies from the entire value chain of the retail and the retail real estate industries, comprising approximately 1 million employees nationwide.

“On April 8, 2020, we released our Code of Conduct, which was developed in a joint effort. The feedback from many of our members is very positive. It was also reported on by various leading specialist media. Particularly the coverage in ACROSS raised the awareness for it significantly on a European level. So far, the Code of Conduct has been downloaded roughly 5,000 times. The responses via LinkedIn and e-mail show us that our work is very much appreciated. Some countries intend to develop their own Codes of Conduct, using ours as a blueprint. What happened in Portugal was wonderfully surprising, as the Code of Conduct was translated into Portuguese and sent out with an accompanying press release.

In these first few days, we have a good feeling that we are on the right path and that we are actually helping lessees and lessors. It is particularly impressive that the ECE, Deutsche Euroshop, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, HBB, BBE, IPH, and EHI already agreed to comply with this Code of Conduct on their websites or social media channels within the first days. We would like you all to publicly agree to comply with the fair-play rules of this Code of Conduct.”

About the Code of Conduct

The Code of Conduct covers the entirety of the German retail, service, gastronomy, and retail real estate industries and will serve as a useful tool for negotiations during the coronavirus crisis, especially for small and medium-sized tenants. It is the first Code of Conduct that has been established for the retail and retail real estate industries in the history of Germany. 

“The most important premise for all those involved centered around the unanimous understanding that now is not the time to bury ourselves in legal positions, only to be told in a few years’ time, before the Federal Supreme Court, whether or not Article 313 of the German Civil Code applies,” states Harald Ortner, Chairman of the GCSP, further explaining: “Everyone is well aware that the massive impact brought about by the coronavirus crisis are not the fault of any party and that we will only be able to cope with the aftereffects by working together. Accordingly, the Code of Conduct can now serve as a guideline to define the rules of conduct between landlords and tenants in the retail real estate industry for the period encompassing the coronavirus crisis and the subsequent restart phase. These are recommendations for action to which both parties can commit themselves. The Code of Conduct aims to establish fair and cooperative dealings, on an equal footing, in order to ensure balanced burden sharing.” 

“Now, we must look ahead and formulate joint requirements on behalf of the retail and retail real estate industries in such a way that the entire value chain is always put into political focus. Particular attention must be paid to the extremely sensitive network of brick-and-mortar retail in our cities, as it is the backbone of healthy and thriving cities in Germany. As the German Council of Shopping Places, we are particularly committed to its preservation,” Harald Ortner concludes.  The Code of Conduct has now been officially published. The GCSP recommends adherence to this Code of Conduct for the duration of the coronavirus crisis.

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