On 25 July 2023, the High Court rejected an attempt from the Cutrale family to prevent 1,300 claims in our group action from moving forward.
The judgment means the large majority of the orange farmers affected will have their chance to receive justice in the English courts.
Tom Goodhead, Global Managing Partner and CEO, said: “The defendants attempted to get approximately 85% of our claimants struck out. However, the judge has determined that an overwhelming majority can proceed.”
With only 21 claims deemed invalid by the High Court, the judgment is a positive step in our claim against the Cutrale family. We have already taken steps to protect and, in some cases appeal, a number of the claims that were deemed invalid.
In 2018, a number of companies and individuals, including the Cutrale family, ‘acknowledged their participation’ in a price fixing scandal across the orange juice market. The defendants paid $96.2 million to government funds as part of the settlement.
Despite the strong evidence that orange growers lost nearly $3 billion because of the price fixing, the farmers affected by the scandal did not receive any of the settlement funds as compensation.
As the fines were imposed by The Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) in a Cease and Desist Agreement for Cartel Cases (TCC), they are not directly received by the victims. CADE fines are considered contributions to the Diffuse Rights Defence Fund and are instead used to finance social projects to defend and restore damages to the environment, among other things.
To ensure they had their chance to receive compensation for the Cutrale family’s wrongdoing, in 2019 and early 2020, approximately 200 farmers, followed by 1,300 more, issued claims over the price fixing cartel allegations.
Despite an appeal by the Cutrales, in November 2021 the High Court ruled that the English Courts could hear the price fixing claims against the estate of José Luís Cutrale and his son José Luís Cutrale Jr. They had originally argued the case should be heard in Brazil instead.
Our competition and antitrust lawyers are currently working on the claim, continuing to represent the farmers and their families to ensure that justice is served for all those affected.
You can find out more about the case, including recent updates, here.