FSA turns to Court of Appeal in minima charging case

Food safety bosses have confirmed they will apply to the Court of Appeal following the recent ruling in the High Court that they had overcharged the meat industry.

Mr Justice Singh this week refused the Food Standards Agency (FSA) application to appeal his decision in the High Court on the grounds that he regarded “the issues as clearly to be determined in favour of the claimant”.

The original case was brought by the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers to challenge the legality of FSA bills, totalling in the region of £1m, for meat industry underpayments based on the EU minima charging levels - the minimum rate per animal that EU member states have to collect to pay for meat inspection at abattoirs.

In court papers, the judge said: “I do not consider that the grounds of appeal have any real prospect of success nor do I see any other compelling reason why there should be an appeal.”

However, he did agree to the FSA’s request to extend the time for filling an appellant’s notice to the Court of Appeal by a further 14 days.

A spokesman for the FSA confirmed the agency would now be applying for permission to appeal with the Court of Appeal.

The ruling means invoices sent out to abattoirs for EU minima payments for 2011/12 were unlawful. Outstanding invoices do not now have to be paid and the FSA must repay any that have already been paid. In addition the claimants were awarded their costs.

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