Market body's hopes rest with Lords appeal

The New Covent Garden Market Authority is hoping its appeal this week to the Law Lords to lift the Court of Appeal decision which prevents its members from selling meat face-to-face is the final hurdle in a lengthy battle

which has now been running for around two-and-a-half years. The House of Lord's decision is expected to be made public in July.

Helen Evans, at the New Covent Market, said she was optimistic that the House of Lords will decide in the Authority's favour. "We believe we have won two court decisions and are likely to win this final hurdle," she said.

Lord Whitty, the Minister, who originally granted the New Covent Market Authority permission for meat face-to-face trading in 2003. But the City of London Corporation was opposed to the move and sought a Judicial Review, which again found in New Covent Market's favour in February 2004. However, the City of London Corporation was unhappy with the Judgement in favour of the Authority. It took the matter to the Court of Appeal which decided against Covent Garden in December 2004.

Following the decision, the Authority and Defra each submitted petitions to the House of Lords seeking leave to appeal and this was granted unconditionally in May 2005. The original date for the hearing was set for June 2006 but was moved to 20 March this year.

Jan Lloyd, CGMA Chief Executive, said: "When the House of Lords gave consent to Defra and the Authority to appeal it did so unconditionally, which is quite rare. The Authority has always believed that its case is strong, and indeed two previous court decisions supported this position. We have every reason to believe that we will be successful this time and welcome the fact that the decision as to whether traders at NCGM can trade meat and fish face to face will happen sooner rather than later."

George Simcock of Allens of Mount Street London which distributes from New Covent Market said if the decision went in favour of the Authority then he would be buying more meat from Smithfield. "The quantity I buy will go up and that should be good news for Smithfield Market."

Stanley Ginsburg, Chairman of the Markets Committee, City of London said: "We have taken this action to support our tenants at Smithfield and Billingsgate and we are hoping the House of Lords will agree with the Court of Appeal's judgement."

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