19 December 1997

Pay-out for SLOM 3

COMPENSATION for being kept out of milk production is to be paid to SLOM 3 milk producers, following a landmark case in the European Court.

SLOM 3 producers are those who had acquired part of a holding in the early 1980s which was involved in non-marketing of milk schemes. They intended to run dairy cows on it when the respective schemes ended, but were thwarted from doing so by the introduction of quotas in 1984.

It was not until late 1993 that this group eventually got any quota. And, unlike SLOM 1 and SLOM 2 producers before them, who received up to 10p/litre for having been kept out of milk production for so long, SLOM 3 producers were denied any compensation at all.

But last week, following a lengthy legal battle in the European courts, two German producers were told they should be compensated on the same basis as SLOM 1 and SLOM 2 producers. This sets a precedent for numerous other cases.

As with SLOM 1 and 2, however, the court is introducing a limitation period, which will restrict the amount of compensation to be paid to individual producers.

"We believe there are up to a 100 potential claimants in the UK, though to date only a few have applied for the aid," says Joanne Keddie of London solicitors Dawson & Co.

"With the five-year limitation it is crucial that others apply soon or risk losing their compensation."

&#8226 About 125 writs have now been issued against the NFU by SLOM producers who believe they were given negligent advice by the union, which cost them dear in terms of missed compensation (Business, Aug 15). The action is being co-ordinated by solicitors, Wragge and Co, which is currently waiting for a date for a hearing in the Birmingham District Register.