Burges Salmon challenges farmers' £5m action

The farmers allege that Burges Salmon was negligent in not advising them of the risk of not making a timely claim against the National Farmers' Union (NFU) in connection with losses arising from EU milk quotas. It is alleged the farmers were denied full compensation because their claims were brought out of time due to the firm's advice.

It is also alleged that Burges Salmon was in a position of conflict between the farmers and the NFU, because at the time the firm was funded by the NFU to bring a test case against the EU.

A Burges Salmon spokesman told The Lawyer: “The matter is with our insurer's solicitors and is being defended strongly.”

Dairy farmers sought compensation from the NFU after it advised them not to seek action against the EU (until a claim against the EU was settled), after the EU denied them full compensation for loss of production due to new restrictions on milk production.

Burges Salmon, having written earlier to some farmers alleging that the NFU's advice was bad, later said that any claims against the NFU would result in only small wins. It also advised the farmers to await the outcome of the test case against the EU (which the firm was funded to carry out).

Last month Burges Salmon argued in the Court of Appeal that Mr Justice Neuberger was wrong to find that, for the purposes of calculating damages, the farmers could rely on Mr Justice Evans-Lombe's 1999 judgment. Judge Evans-Lombe had ruled that 10 lead farmers would not be able to receive full compensation due to the late commencement of their case against the NFU.