Polish firm sued over horsemeat supply claims

An Irish beef processing company is suing a Polish company that allegedly supplied beef contaminated with horsemeat, the High Court heard yesterday.

Anglo Beef Processors Ireland trading as Silvercrest Foods has sued Polish based Food Service SP.z.o.o for damages arising out of two beef consignments provided to it by Food Service in December 5, 2012, and January 7, 2013.

In its claim for breach of contract Anglo Beef Processors (ABP) alleges the beef consignments were contaminated with horsemeat.

Food Service denies the claims.

A preliminary issue in the action came before Mr Justice Paul Gilligan yesterday when lawyers for ABP asked the court for an order compelling the defendant to provide certain documentation which ABP says it requires to litigate its action.

The court heard that Food Service says in its defence the beef consignments it sent to Ireland was transported by a third party company. However Food Service claims the product it placed on the lorry in Poland was not what arrived in Ireland, and the consignments were substituted by a person or persons unknown.

Arising out of that part of the defence ABP wanted Food Service to provide any documentation relating to security measures put in place in respect of the two consignments, throughout the production process from when the material was sourced, to the time of delivery to Silvercrest in Ireland.

ABP also sought all documents relating to any consignements of frozen beef sold by Food Service between July 2012 and June 2013 which were found to contain horsemeat other than the two consignments delivered to it in December 2012 and January 2013.

Lawyers for Food Service opposed the application. It argued it could not provide documentation in relation to the security arrangements provided by the transport company which delivered the product to the ABP facility in Ireland and which is not a party to the proceerdings.

The court heard that Food Service claims it was not responsible in fact or in law once it placed its product on the lorry. It also argued that the other documentation sought in relation to other consignments was not relevant to ABP’s action.

In his ruling Mr Justice Paul Gilligan said ABP was entitled to the documentation sought. The Judge said that in his view all the documentation sought by the plaintiff company was relevant to the claim.

The Judge, noting the difficulties that the defendants would have providing the documentation adjourned the matter for 18 weeks to allow for the discovery of materials to take place.


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