Canadian lawsuit alleging price-fixing amongst Norwegian salmon firms seeks class-action status

Published on
January 9, 2020

Facing criminal investigations by the European Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice as well as a bevy of civil lawsuits filed in American courts, four Norwegian salmon-farming companies now must deal with additional civil action in Canada.

A lawsuit filed on behalf of salmon consumer Irene Breckon of Elliot Lake, Ontario, was filed on 3 January in Federal Court in Toronto, according to the CBC. The suit seeks up to CAD 500 million (USD 382 million, EUR 343.9 million), alleging Mowi, SalMar, Lerøy Seafood, Grieg Seafood, engaged in a price-fixing agreement that resulted in higher prices for salmon products they sold in Canada.

Breckon’s lawyers are seeking class-action status for the suit, with the aim of including all consumers who purchased farmed salmon produced by the named parties after 1 July, 2015.

"The defendants and their unnamed co-conspirators control the Canadian salmon market through their market share," Toronto-based Sotos LLP said in its statement of claim.

The allegations are based on an ongoing investigation by the European Commission that came to light when authorities raided several facilities belonging to the companies named in the suit. Throughout 2019, a series of lawsuits were filed in U.S. civil courts, while the U.S. Justice Department announced its own investigation in November 2019.

In emailed statements to the CBC, Grieg Seafood and Mowi acknowledged they were aware of the Canadian lawsuit.

"We are not aware of any anti-competitive behavior, not in Norway, the E.U., the U.S.A. or Canada,” Grieg Seafood's Global Communications Manager Kristina Furnes said. “We are fully collaborating with European and American authorities in this matter. We will follow up the lawsuit accordingly."

Mowi denied the existence of any conspiracy or its involvement in illegal behavior related to the allegations.

"Mowi has not been involved in price-fixing or other anti-competitive conduct, and believe that the allegations are unfounded,” Mowi Group Communications Director Ola Helge Hjetland said.

Photo courtesy of Kaleb Kroetsch/Shutterstock

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