UK’s Supreme Court sides with Seafish


Steven Hedlund

Published on
June 14, 2011

The United Kingdom’s Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with Seafish (the Sea Fish Industry Authority) in a case involving uncollected duties on imported seafood owed to Seafish that dragged on for more than two years.

Today’s ruling overturns a Court of Appeals decision in March 2010 in favor of British Seafood Group, which brought the lawsuit in late 2008, contesting the requirement that it pay duties on seafood it imported. Initially, the High Court had sided with Seafish in mid-2009, but the British Seafood Group appealed the decision. (The company went into administration in February 2010 and has since been divested.)

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that the collection of duties on imported seafood is legal, Seafish will return to serving the industry “at full capacity.”

“We are delighted with the Supreme Court’s ruling,” said Seafish CEO Dr. Paul Williams. “The fact that the highest court in the UK has confirmed our powers to raise a levy on imported [seafood] products means we can now move forward and carry out our planned activities. The ruling will have a positive impact on Seafish and the entire seafood industry.”

The March 2010 ruling had forced Seafish to put services and projects on hold, said Williams.

Seafish will now collect back-dated duties from businesses that failed to pay levies on imported seafood after March 2010 ruling.

“We have remained in touch with the businesses that have been affected by the court rulings, so we expect to be able to progress swiftly back to working at full capacity with our funding reinstated,” said Williams.

Added Seafish Chairman John Whitehead: “I would like to thank Paul Williams and all the staff at Seafish for their commitment during the past 16 months of uncertainty. This has been a very difficult time for all of them and the Seafish Board is appreciative of their dedication.”

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