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Defra Wins Seafish Supreme Court Case

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Defra Wins Seafish Supreme Court Case

Defra Wins Seafish Supreme Court Case
June 17
09:59 2011

The British Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has won a Supreme Court ruling that reinstates the power of the Sea Fish Industry Authority (Seafish) to collect levies on imported sea fish and sea fish products. Seafish is the body which supports the UK’s seafood industry.

Five Supreme Court judges unanimously overturned an earlier Court of Appeal ruling that Seafish could not lawfully collect levy on imports following a legal challenge by a group of levy payers. Defra, the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and DARDNI will continue to work closely with Seafish and the industry on how the organisation can best move forward.

Seafish is a UK levy-funded Non-Departmental Public Body established by the Fisheries Act 1981.

In 2009 a group of companies which import fish brought a case before the High Court challenging the right of Seafish to collect a levy on imported products. Although the High Court found in favour of Seafish, the judgment was overturned by the Court of Appeal in March 2010. Defra successfully applied for leave to appeal this ruling to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court heard the case on 24-25 March and on 15 June handed down its judgment in favour of Defra.

“The ruling will have a positive impact on Seafish and the entire seafood industry,” says Dr Paul Williams, chief executive of Seafish. “The earlier Court of Appeal decision, in March 2010, resulted in a significant loss of income to Seafish, which impacted on projects and services in all areas of our organisation – distracting us from our important work. We are now very pleased to be able to return with force to our job – adding value to the seafood industry throughout the supply chain.”

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