Home Estate Planning UK supermarket giants launch £675m cartel lawsuit against fish farmers 

UK supermarket giants launch £675m cartel lawsuit against fish farmers 

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Several UK supermarket giants have bound together to launch a competition claim against different fish farmers, accusing them of operating a cartel-like operation.

Asda, Iceland, Marks and Spencer, Ocado, Morrison, International Seafoods, Aldi and the Co-Op have all brought a lawsuit to the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT).

The claims are against fish farmers, Seashore, Cermaq, Grieg Seafood, Lerøy Seafood, SalMar, Mowi, Scottish Sea Farms and SSF Hjaltland. Several of these defendants are based in Norway.

This claim is for damages arising from alleged “unlawful cartel arrangements” regarding the supply of farmed Atlantic salmon.

The claim form states the effects of the cartel extended downstream through the supply chain, affecting secondary processed products made from farmed Atlantic Salmon, such as smoked or frozen salmon and ready-to-eat salmon products.

The claim outlined that since February 2019, the defendants (with the exception of Cermaq) were the subject of dawn raids by the European Commission, followed by the opening of the Commission antitrust
investigation in farmed Atlantic salmon. At the start of the year, the Commission issued a statement of objections against the majority of the defendants.

The claim also stated that members of the Grieg, Lerøy, Mowi and SalMar Groups have also been
investigated by the US Department of Justice since 15 November 2019, the criminal investigation was settled in 2023.

Some of the defendants have also been sued in US class actions by both direct and indirect purchasers in relation to the cartel in Florida and have recently settled antitrust litigation in the US and Canada.

The claimants comprise seven of the largest supermarkets in the UK, together representing over 44 per cent of the UK grocery market with total estimated combined purchases of farmed Atlantic salmon of around £1.7bn during the cartel period.

The supermarkets’ “current best” estimate of their total losses over the relevant period is £675m (excluding financing costs).

It is understood that Genevieve Quierin, partner at London-headquartered law firm Stephenson Harwood is acting on behalf of the supermarkets.

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