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Hastie Stable success in glyphosate-contamination litigation

Stable member Michael Upton (instructed by Thorntons) represented the successful defenders in what appears to the first court case about the controversial topic of glyphosate contamination to have gone to judgment (apart from a Chancery decision about whether such a claim should be litigated or arbitrated (Wholecrop Marketing Ltd. v. Wolds Produce Ltd., [2013] E.W.H.C. 2079)).  On 6th March Forfar Sheriff Court gave judgment in E. P. Brand (Farmers) Ltd. v. A. M. McEwan and Peacock v. same.  These are two related cases brought in both contract and delict by English potato farmers against Scots seed-potato growers alleging glyphosate contamination in seed potatoes. 

Representatives of the parties had visited each other’s farms in company with potato merchants.  The pursuers had decided to buy seed grown by the defenders.  A preliminary but wide-ranging proof was heard about the legal consequences of the visits.  The pursuers contended that direct contracts had been concluded between the parties by word of mouth.  The defenders argued that contracts had been made, and documented, for the seed potatoes to be sold by them to Scots merchants, by the Scots merchants to English merchants, and by the English merchants (who had since ceased trading) to the pursuers.  The Sheriff upheld the defenders’ version of events.  For the time being the pursuers’ claims in delict remain undetermined.