Retail Ireland have written to the minister for Justice Dermot Ahern to call for a reform of the law related to leases.
Retail Ireland director Torlach Denihan said: "Retail Ireland has asked that he build on his decision to abolish upward-only rent review clauses by undertaking a fundamental reform of the law relating to leases. This reform is urgently needed to save jobs and respond to the unprecedented economic crisis affecting retailers.
"Rents are a huge component of the retail cost base but are almost impossible to reduce. Some landlords have successfully sought or are currently seeking very substantial rent increases under upward-only rent review clauses. Many tenants face rent increases of anything between a third and double at a time when their sales have suffered a huge drop. Arbitrators' hands are tied by current lease provisions.
"The most recent example of landlords seeking large rent increases that we have heard of is Carphone Warehouse in Cork. 3G Mobile Retail said that its decision to liquidate the business was due to extremely high rents and inflexible leases. A similar problem was evident in the case of Carluccio's Restaurant but was averted at the last minute due to constructive engagement between landlord and tenant.
The group wants arbitrators to take account of prevailing economic and commercial conditions when reviewing rents and for landlords to disclose all information to arbitrators when seeking a comparison-based upward rent review.
They also want turnover-related reviews instead of upward-only rent review clauses in existing leases and the power to insert break clauses where a tenant's business has deteriorated due to circumstances outside the tenant's control.