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SLOM group to sue NFU over quota advice

15 August 1997
SLOM group to sue NFU over quota advice

By Philip Clarke

A GROUP of SLOM quota holders is to sue the National Farmers Union over allegedly negligent advice it gave in respect of compensation claims in 1992.

SLOM producers are those who did not get milk quota in 1984 because they were involved in EU “non-marketing of milk” schemes at the time. Quota was eventually granted to them in 1989, at which point a group of five lodged claims for compensation for having been kept out of milk production for most of the 1980s.

This was eventually granted by the European Court in 1992 – typically worth between 6p and 10p/litre, or about £30,000 for a 70-cow herd. But strings were attached – in particular that compensation could only go back five years from the date at which a claim was lodged.

The NFU took a case to the European Court of Justice on behalf of about 400 SLOM producers, challenging this five-year limitation. However, the case was rejected earlier this year.

Now, a group of 30 farmers have instructed Birmingham solicitors Wragge & Co to pursue claims against the NFU (and some other solicitors) over advice they say they were given in 1992.

  • For the full story see Farmers Weekly, August 15-21, 1997

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    SLOM group to sue NFU over quota advice

    15 August 1997

    SLOM group to sue NFU over quota advice

    By Philip Clarke

    A GROUP of SLOM quota holders is to sue the NFU over allegedly negligent advice it gave in respect of compensation claims in 1992.

    SLOM producers are those who did not get a milk quota in 1984 because they were involved in EU "non-marketing of milk" schemes at the time.

    Quota was eventually granted to them in 1989, at which point a group of five lodged claims for compensation for having been kept out of milk production for most of the 1980s.

    This was eventually granted by the European Court in 1992 – typically worth between 6p and 10p/litre, or about £30,000 for a 70-cow herd.

    But strings were attached – in particular that compensation could only go back five years from the date at which a claim was lodged.

    The NFU, together with solicitors Burges Salmon, took a case to the European Court of Justice on behalf of about 400 SLOM producers, challenging this five-year limitation.

    Known as "Saint/Murray", the case was rejected in Luxembourg earlier this year.

    A group of 30 farmers has now instructed Birmingham solicitors Wragge & Co to pursue claims against the NFU (and some other solicitors) over advice they say they were given in 1992.

    The group alleges that at some point before Aug 5, 1992 – when compensation was sanctioned – the NFU advised them not to lodge their own claims, pending the outcome of the European Courts decision on compensation.

    The producers argue that having been advised to wait, they were adversely affected by the five-year limitation and did not get as much compensation as they might have done.

    In excess of £100,000

    "In virtually every case this sum amounts to several tens of thousands of pounds, and in some cases in excess of £100,000," says Paul Howard of Wragge & Co, in a letter to other SLOM producers.

    But the NFU strongly denies the allegations. "We never advised producers not to lodge claims. We just said we would not do it for them," says Union lawyer Jane Adderley.

    "We did advise producers that if they wished to pursue their own individual applications they could do so via their own solicitors. An NFU briefing was produced on how this could be done.

    "At no time did we advise producers they definitely should not lodge a claim."

    The union would vigorously defend any action – but hoped to avoid legal action in the first place.

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