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Thursday, February 2, 2023
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Litigation teams line up for first milk cartel class action

Farmers have filed their first claims before several courts in key jurisdictions of Spain to conduct the milk cartel litigation, represented by ESKARIAM and Hausfeld, under the Legal direction of Hitchings & Co, with Compass Lexecon providing economic evidence

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A group of 7,000 farmers, representing 60% of the total numbers of farmers which have chosen to file a claim, have filed their first claims before several courts in key jurisdictions of Spain with the objective of conducting the milk cartel litigation in an orderly, efficient, and responsible way.

The farmers are represented by a stellar line up of legal talent taking the lead, including Eskariam, a Spanish legal services firm specialising in class actions, and Hausfeld, an international litigation law firm specialised in competition disputes and collective redress.

The team has instructed Paul Hitchings (Hitchings & Co) – one of the most respected competition litigators in the Spanish market – as the Legal Director on the case and Compass Lexecon to provide economic evidence. Paul Hitchings is assisted by lawyer Rodrigo Sánchez Díaz. Hitchings leads the claim, and participates in the legal strategy and works closely with the ESKARIAM team, with the aim of ensuring that the farmers affected by the Milk Cartel receive the compensation they are entitled to for the anti-competitive practices developed by the main dairy industries operating in Spain during the years 2000 to 2013, in accordance with the CNMC resolution of 11 July 2019, sanctioning the cartelists with fines totalling €80.6 million

Between 2000 and 2013, ten of the largest Spanish and international dairy companies and associations, including Danone, Nestlé and Lactalis, exchanged information on purchase prices, purchase volumes and the level of surplus milk – both at a national and regional level, with the objective of acquiring milk from farmers across Spain at a lower price than that available under normal market conditions.

Hausfeld´s team comprises managing partner Lianne Craig, partner Tom Bolster and associate Gonzalo Antón Tascón.

Compass Lexecon and and its group of economic experts assist with antitrust expertise and provides economic evidence.

With the group representing over 60% of the total number of farmers affected by the cartel which have chosen to file a claim, filing thousands of claims at the same time is likely to overwhelm the Spanish Courts such as was the case in the Trucks Cartel. Opting for a responsible approach to litigation, the legal team filed a mix of individual claims and claims that group a small number of farmers instead. The selection of claims will show the Courts an accurate picture of the different typologies of affected clients the firms represent. The smaller number should be helpful to the judiciary, making it procedurally simpler and encouraging a swifter resolution of the claims.  

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