The Honourable Denis Gascon has approved proceedings for a settlement plan.

Norwegian salmon farmers close to ending Canadian ‘price fixing’ court case

Plaintiffs happy with CAD5.25m offer from Cermaq, Grieg Seafood, Lerøy, Mowi, and SalMar


A civil case brought by two Canadian consumers against a group of Norwegian salmon farmers for alleged price fixing appears close to being resolved after a federal court judge approved a route to a settlement.

Ontario anti-poverty campaigner Irene Breckon and consumer Gregory Sills have been pursuing a class action against Cermaq, Grieg Seafood, Lerøy, Mowi, SalMar, and various subsidiaries of those companies since 2019.

The action by the plaintiffs is on behalf of “all persons in Canada who purchased farmed Atlantic salmon and products containing or derived from farmed Atlantic salmon purchased or sold in Canada from April 10, 2013”.

The salmon farmers have jointly offered a settlement of Canadian $5,250,000 (£3.146 million, or NOK 42m).

After a hearing on October 6 the judge, Mr Justice Gascon, gave the go-ahead for a settlement approval hearing.

No admission of liability

The terms of the proposed settlement agreement specify that the salmon farmers do not admit any allegation of unlawful conduct alleged in the proceedings and deny all liability.

The agreement adds that while the defendants have “good and reasonable defences” against the allegations, they are settling the case “in order to achieve a final and nationwide resolution of all claims which have been asserted or could have been asserted”, and “to avoid further expense, inconvenience, the distraction of burdensome and protracted litigation, and the risks associated with trials and appeals”.

For their part, the plaintiffs and class counsel say the settlement “is fair, reasonable and in the best interests of the plaintiffs and of the settlement class they seek to represent”.

Second settlement

This is the second class action that Norwegian salmon farmers have faced in North America.

In September last year, a judge in the United States granted final approval to a settlement in the class action lawsuit that alleged six defendants were colluding or conspiring to fix the price of Norwegian salmon purchased in the US.

In May 2022, a group of salmon producers and sellers including farming heavyweights Mowi, Lerøy, SalMar, Cermaq and Grieg agreed to pay US $85m to end the action brought by US-based fish buyers Euclid Fish Company, Euro USA Inc., Schneider’s Fish and Sea Food Corporation, and The Fishing Line LLC, individually and “on behalf of all others similarly situated”.

A commercial decision

The salmon farmers and other defendants said that while they all rejected that there was any basis for the claims and considered the complaints to be entirely unsubstantiated, they had, following a mandatory mediation procedure, accepted a settlement offer from the direct purchaser plaintiffs subject to approval by the court of Southern District of Florida.

In its statement in September, Mowi said: “All defendants expressly reject the allegations regarding anti-competitive behaviour and strongly believe that the antitrust claims lack merit.

“Given that the costs of litigation in the US are substantial, coupled with the timeline for any litigation and required engagement of extensive internal resources, Mowi ASA has nonetheless agreed to a settlement for pure commercial purposes. The settlement does not involve any admission of liability or wrongdoing.”

The other farmers issued almost identical statements.