Big retailers win legal battle to keep doing Sunday business in Seoul
An administrative court on Friday ruled in favor of five large retailers over new ordinances by two ward offices in Seoul that prohibit them from doing business on Sunday to protect small, family-run stores.
The ruling by the Seoul Administrative Court marked the first of its kind putting a brake on a government-wide move to restrict operating hours of big retailers, also known as "super supermarkets."
Five large retailers, including Lotte Shopping, E-Mart Everyday and Homeplus, filed a petition with the court after the two ward offices in Gangdong and Songpa in Seoul introduced new ordinances in March that would force them to shut their doors on the second and fourth Sunday of every month.
The ordinances are part of the central government's policy to curb the expansion of big retailers and help smaller and "mom-and-pop" stores.
In the ruling, Judge Oh Seok-joon said the ordinances have a "procedural problem" because they require the heads of the ward offices to compulsorily restrict the businesses of big retailers.
"The ordinances are in violation of the Retail Industry Development Law that gives a discretionary authority to heads of local government on the need for restricting businesses and the extent of restriction," Oh said in the ruling.
However, the court did not rule on whether the government's move against large retail chains is unlawful or not.
The five retailers have a combined 37 stores in the two districts located southeast of the Han River and were scheduled to shut their doors Sunday under the ordinances.
With the Friday ruling, they can open on Sunday, court officials said. (Yonhap)