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Court rules against forced Sunday closure of big stores

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Published : 2012-06-22 20:28
Updated : 2012-06-22 21:57

A lower court on Friday ruled that local governments’ forcing of large discount stores to shut on Sundays to protect small-sized retailers is illegal.

Following the ruling, large stores in Gangdong and Songpa of Seoul will be able to operate from this Sunday.

Judge Oh Seok-jun of Seoul Administrative Court ruled in favor of five large mega-retailers in Songpa and Gangdong that claimed that local administrations’ new ordinance forcing them to close on every second and fourth Sunday is illegal.

The policy was implemented to help small or individually-owned supermarkets attract consumers on holidays. According to the rule, large supermarkets are banned from operation between midnight and 8 a.m., too.

However, the court said that the ordinance deprived each regional administrative leader of the chance to discern whether the shutdown actually constitutes public interest. Moreover, the judiciary said that the forced shutdown was a violation of the Distribution Industry Development Act.

“Before the shutdown order, large supermarkets ought to be convinced about the main purpose of their business closure and need to have a say about it,” the judge said.

Still, Oh acknowledged the foundational idea and the purpose of the policy to be legitimate.

“If local administrations revise the ruling to abide by higher laws and procedures the policies will be legitimate,” a court insider told the press.

According to the government, over 70 percent of such large marts throughout the nation took forced days off on the second Sunday of June. A total of 98 out of 143 E-Mart stores nationwide, 104 out of 129 Home Plus stores and 304 of 430 Lotte Marts alongside 70 percent of mid-sized grocery chains run by such giants closed down on the day.

The ward offices of Gangdong and Songpa said they will appeal. "This is an unexpected defeat since the main purpose of the ordinance is to protect minor retailers. The rulings needs a review by a higher court," an official of Gangdong told a local newspaper.

But the administration decided to waiver inspection on whether large discount stores have shut down on Sundays as mandated to.

By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldcorp.com)

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