Out of the blue, the three dual systems BellandVision, DSD and Interseroh have terminated their clearing contracts on 2 August 2017, although they were agreed to run until 31 December 2017. Allegedly, whilst the above named systems were in the process of negotiating modifications to the clearing contracts through the ‘Gemeinsame Stelle dualer Systeme’, the coordinating body for Germany's dual systems, BellandVision, DSD and Interseroh have now suddenly terminated the contracts without further notice, announcing at the same time that new contracts have been agreed and signed which the other systems are welcome to join.
"The simultaneous withdrawal of the three systems, which together have a dominant market share of 65%, is badly timed and unnecessary; we simply cannot understand it," says Managing Director Sascha Schuh. "Not least because the negotiations, which covered stabilisation measures, the inclusion of non-packaging in the clearing office notifications and the future regulations regarding the illegality of kickbacks (Section 7.6 of the new packaging law) were making good progress. Further negotiation meetings were already scheduled to take place in the next few weeks. The early termination of the current negotiations therefore wilfully damages the basis of mutual trust between the dual systems."
Over the past few years, the licensing volumes have become considerably more stable due to permanent modifications to the clearing contracts. Further stabilisation measures were being discussed, and good progress had already been made towards a consensual solution. These actions therefore suggest that the three system operators intend to bypass the clearing contract rule of unanimity with their terminations.
The bottom line is that at present, seven dual systems can refer to existing clearing contracts which have been signed by all system operators and are therefore legally valid. Unless the current situation changes, BellandVision, DSD and Interseroh will not have valid clearing contracts from 1 January 2018 onwards and will therefore be unable to participate in volume or additional charge clearing activities. Whether the systems that have terminated their contracts are facing the loss of their approved status in consequence of the terminations is therefore bound to become an issue that will be much discussed over the next few weeks.