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Court Rules in Favour of Seafish

UK - John Rutherford, Chief Executive of Seafish, the authority for seafood, said today that his organisation is delighted with Judge Hamblens ruling, and that todays judgement will enable Seafish to deliver continuous improvements in its services to the seafood industry.

At a hearing today the Court ruled in Seafish’s favour on the claims made against it at the trial in June. The Court allowed the claimants to raise a new challenge to the levy on EU imports. The claimants have also indicated that they intend to appeal against the judgement.

Mr Rutherford said: “We are delighted with this result, and the success that we have had so far in this case. We have won on all the points that we have raised and will now be paid most of the outstanding levy and our legal costs. The judgement confirms our remit to serve the entire UK seafood chain regardless of the product’s origin. We are confident of our prospects for a similar result in any appeal.”

“The judge said that a prudent business would not have brought this claim having paid the levy for so many years, and has ruled that our costs for defending this action must now be paid, as must the 90 per cent of outstanding levy withheld during this legal dispute.”

As well as confirming Seafish’s legal duty to charge levy on all types of seafood regardless of origin, Judge Hamblen has also ruled that the British Seafood group must pay a sum of £300,000 immediately in respect of costs. The judge also ordered British Seafood to pay 90 per cent of levy owed to Seafish.

Mr Charles Howeson, Chairman of Seafish, said: “We appreciate the support given to our organisation by the Defra team and by seafood companies generally throughout the Court process. Our industry representative board have been resolute and entirely unified throughout this saga and are thoroughly pleased with today’s result.”

“To that end, we will continue to work with industry on the development of our next three-year plan. The next stage in the development of this plan will be extensive consultation between now and the end of 2009. Without question, our plans will include the valuable role that imported seafood plays in the British industry, and we are looking forward to a full involvement from British Seafood and all other importers in this process.”

the Fish Site Editor

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