Judge blocks EU legislation

A British judge has delivered a landmark ruling forcing the Government to suspend a piece of European law for the first time.

Last Monday (6 October), Mr Justice Davis ruled that EC legislation coming into force next month, requiring animal feed manufacturers to print recipes of their products on packaging, should be suspended in England.

German courts have suspended the application of binding European legislation on a number of previous occasions, but this is believed to be the first time this has happened in England.

Judge Davis was ruling on a case brought by a number of compound animal feed manufacturers against the Secretary of State for Health John Reid. It is understood that the Government welcomed the ruling, as it voted against this directive in 2000.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner William Robinson and Brick Court’s David Anderson QC represented the group of animal feed manufacturers, including major industry players such as Associated British Foods and Cargill.

The EC directive states that animal feed manufacturers should disclose the exact percentage of all the ingredients in their products on packaging, which Freshfields successfully argued is akin to giving away valuable trade secrets. Any competitor reading the label would be able to replicate products, which have in many cases taken years and millions of pounds to research and develop, the claimants’ lawyers said.

Clive Lewis, of 11 King’s Bench Walk, instructed by the Treasury Solicitor, acted for the defendants.