NL

Salmon farming companies settle class-action lawsuit alleging global price-fixing scheme

Seven companies accused of conspiring to manipulate the global price of salmon have agreed to pay a total of more than $5 million Cdn to settle a class-action lawsuit. 

7 companies, including N.L.'s Mowi and Grieg, to pay more than $5M to big salmon buyers

An underwater photo showing several salmon fishing in blue water.
Seven companies, including major players in Newfoundland and Labrador salmon farming, have settled a class-action lawsuit that accused them of market manipulation. (Northern Harvest Sea Farms)

Seven companies accused of conspiring to manipulate the global price of salmon have agreed to pay a total of more than $5 million Cdn to settle a class-action lawsuit. 

Some of the largest players in the salmon farming industry in Newfoundland and Labrador, including Mowi and Grieg, were among the companies involved.

The lawsuit claimed Cermaq Canada, Grieg Seafood, Lerøy Seafood AS, Marine Harvest Atlantic Canada, Mowi ASA, Nova Sea AS and Sjór AS conspired to manipulate the Norwegian spot market for salmon prices and in doing so influence global salmon prices.

The allegation was not been proven in court, and the companies recently agreed to settle the lawsuit without a trial.

a woman
Lawyer Linda Visser, a partner in Siskinds' class-action department, says a settlement doesn't necessarily mean a party in a lawsuit is admitting to wrongdoing. (Siskinds)

The companies have denied any wrongdoing, and the settlement doesn't involve an admission of guilt. Linda Visser is a partner with London, Ont.-based Siskinds LLP, one of the law firms involved in the class action, said it's often easier for companies to end a lawsuit by settling it to save time and money.

"Some companies can have reasons for wanting to resolve litigation related to the potential liability related to the risk involved, related to the time and effort and expense of defending that litigation," she told CBC News on Tuesday.

Class-action members who purchased more than $1 million of salmon in Canada between April 10, 2013, and Feb. 20, 2019 are eligible to submit a claim.

"Grocery stores, distributors, fish processing companies, large hotel chains — those type of companies that would be buying a large volume," she said. 

"You could have one company who bought a huge amount, and they would have say, take up eight per cent of the settlement funds, and another company who's just reaching that threshold might only take two per cent of the settlement funds. It's really going to depend on the number of people who actually come forward and file a claim and the size of their purchases."

A donation of $250,000 will be made to Food Banks Canada in lieu of payments to consumers.

The settlement is subject to approval by the Federal Court.

Download our free CBC News app to sign up for push alerts for CBC Newfoundland and Labrador. Click here to visit our landing page.

With files from On The Go

now