AIMS members seek reparations from ‘Illegal charges’

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

AIMs won its challenge against the FSA, but is not seeking a remedy for 'illegal fees' gathered by the standards body
AIMs won its challenge against the FSA, but is not seeking a remedy for 'illegal fees' gathered by the standards body

Related tags legal

The Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS) is seeking reparations for ‘illegal charges’ levied against its members by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), after successfully challenging the body on the lack of transparency on the calculation of its fees.

Six AIMS members challenged whether information on the FSA’s website in the page “Charges for controls in meat premises” was sufficiently clear. 

The case – heard on 21st and 22nd June 2022 before Mr Justice Mostyn in the Royal Courts of Justice –found that the absence of information on the calculation of various elements of the fees was a breach of the FSA’s duty of transparency. 

Judge’s verdict  

This and a lack of information on how costs were apportioned between the hourly rates for Official Veterinarians (OVs) and Meat Hygiene Inspectors (MHIs) “had the consequence of preventing a reasonably astute reader of the material on the website from checking, broadly, the accuracy of the calculation of the hourly charging rates”​, Mostyn ruled. 

However, the judicial review did not look into the ‘lawfulness of the fees levied’, a factor that was still being challenged by AIMS.  

In the lead up to the case, evidence emerged that ‘strongly suggested’ the FSA had in the past illegally included profits and pre-service training costs from their contract with Eville & Jones in its charges. 

Remedying the lack of transparency  

AIMS will continue to pursue an agreement with the FSA and others on how the lack of transparency would be remedied. 

“How to recover those illegal charges will now be considered, as can recovery and prevention of future inclusion of other elements of the charges, which can now be identified as a result of the increased transparency,”​ said Peter Hewson, Veterinary Director at AIMS. 

“One such example is the cost of the very considerable checks the FSA carries out on the performance of E&J OVs and MHIs.” 

Meanwhile, Roythornes Solicitors partner Hannah Leese weighed in on the protracted legal dispute between Cleveland Meat Company Limited and the FSA.​  

Related topics Legal Meat, poultry & seafood

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