The plaintiff farmers in these first claims are represented by one of the best legal teams in Europe: ESKARIAM, a Madrid-based firm specialising in major litigation and collective damage claims, and Hausfeld, an international law firm specialising in competition disputes and collective redress.
The legal team has filed six lawsuits against the Milk Cartel on behalf of a group of farmers affected by the anti-competitive practices of the sanctioned dairy industry. In 2019, the CNMC fined two dairy associations and eight of the largest dairy industries operating in Spain, including Danone, Nestlé and Lactalis, €80.6 million for anti-competitive practices. Their illegal conduct contributed to milk prices in Spain being among the lowest in the European Union, causing serious losses to thousands of Spanish dairy farmers.
The claims brought by ESKARIAM, in partnership with Hausfeld, have been filed in different Spanish courts, including those of Barcelona and Granada, involving a total of 7,000 farmers with an estimated total claim of 800 million euros against the dairies.
Between 2000 and 2013, ten of the largest Spanish and international dairy companies and associations operating in Spain, including Danone, Nestlé and Lactalis, exchanged information on raw milk purchase prices, purchase volumes and the level of milk surpluses at both national and regional level with the aim of purchasing milk from farmers across Spain at a price lower than that available under normal market conditions. In July 2019, the CNMC sanctioned the cartelist industries with fines totalling €80.6 million (Resolution S/0425/12: Industrias Lácteas 2).
Given that this group of farmers represented by ESKARIAM and Hausfeld accounts for approximately 60% of the total number of those affected by the Milk Cartel who have decided to complain, a massive filing of claims at the same time could lead to the collapse of the Spanish courts, as already happened in the case of the lorry cartel. Opting for a responsible approach, our legal team has filed a first batch of claims that will show the judges an accurate picture of the different typologies of affected parties they will encounter in the case. The handling of a smaller number of claims is intended to facilitate the judicial process, simplifying the procedure and encouraging a quicker resolution of the class action.
Our CEO David Fernández explains that “in a first phase, we have filed lawsuits in different Spanish courts so that judges can assess key aspects of the claims. In this way, we prevent the courts from being blocked or paralysed for years by having to deal with more than 7,000 claims simultaneously. We want to encourage a different way of litigating on behalf of those affected, bearing in mind that Spain has not yet implemented a system of class actions or collective claims that would allow large volumes of claims to be handled in the same way”.
Agaprol, the largest association of milk producers in Spain, with which we collaborate to get an accurate view of the functioning of the dairy market and to know the reality of the affected farmers, comments that “dairy farmers have been receiving prices below production costs for years. This situation, forced by the industry, has led to the closure of thousands of farms and a dramatic situation in rural areas with a loss of economic activity and depopulation. The success of these claims would mean economic compensation for the losses caused over the years and would certify the viability of a sustainable food chain that guarantees the food sovereignty of an indispensable product such as milk”.
Lianne Craig, managing partner of Hausfeld in London, adds: “Given the size of this client group, it is key that their claims are litigated efficiently so that they can be compensated for their losses quickly and fairly. We have seen how the filing of thousands of claims in the trucking cartel case has placed a huge burden on the Spanish judicial system, and we have therefore adopted a more strategic and streamlined approach to these clients’ cases that benefits all parties and the system, pending any developments that may take place in due course, allowing for a more effective and efficient form of collective redress in Spain.”
At ESKARIAM, a firm specialising in complex claims for long-term damage claims and leader in the Milk Cartel claim, defending more than 7,000 farmers, in partnership with Hausfeld, we have a team of expert lawyers and other professionals specialising in the different sectors in which we operate with a focus on high-value class actions.
With the support of technological solutions and modern business management techniques, at ESKARIAM we have provided our clients with the best possible means to obtain a service of high legal value and the best results in their claims. One of the cases of success thanks to the use of useful technology and agile processes is the case of undelivered housing, where we have managed to recover money from those affected, obtaining a success rate of more than 90% of judgements. The management of thousands of data and clients by ESKARIAM’s multidisciplinary team would not be possible without the transversal management of the company, in which both the management and production areas are aligned so that, supported by useful technology and processes, resources are optimised and the best results can be achieved, always seeking the satisfaction of the affected clients.
The value proposition that ESKARIAM offers to farmers fully covers the costs and risks derived from the lawsuit, being one hundred percent successful.
ESKARIAM, in partnership with Hausfeld, is determined to see this case through to the end, representing the thousands of farmers affected by the illicit practices of certain dairy industries that have led to the closure of many farms due to the conditions imposed by the Milk Cartel.
ESKARIAM, always on the side of the farmers.
ESKARIAM participates and proposes changes to the new Draft Law on Representation Actions for the protection of consumers’ collective interests
19 de January de 2023