Russian seafood exporter succeeds with antitrust complaint against Ministry of Agriculture (UPDATE)

April 17, 2009 12:50

On 8 April 2009 Moscow's Federal Court of Appeal has confirmed legality and validity of an instruction of Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service to the nation's Ministry of Agriculture with the Service acting to protect the rights of Russia's major seafood exporter OAO Okeanrybflot (plc), reports http://www.fishnet-russia.com/ (https://www.fishnet.ru/ ) with reference to the Service.

In January 2007 OAO Okeanrybflot (plc) appealed to the Federal Antimonopoly Service in connection with paid services of National Fish Safety (National Safety Center for fishery and aquaculture products) (subordinate to Russia's Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor) under the Ministry of Agriculture) on evaluation of companies/vessels compliance with the requirements of Directives and Regulations of the EU (when registering companies (vessels) for the right of product export to the EU states and companies (vessels) having registration numbers for the right of product export to the EU states) as well as services on expertise of documents, examination of product lots, issue of conclusions for seafood export to the EU.

Explaining the situation, Okeanrybflot's deputy director told https://www.fishnet.ru/ that the problem actually rooted from high charges of the National Fish Safety for the above mentioned services, which turn into a burden for the exporters especially in view of the current crisis.

Having considered the above appeal, the Federal Antimonopoly Service has initiated court proceedings against Russia's Ministry of Agriculture and Rosselkhoznadzor charging them with violations of the antimonopoly legislation.

On 9 April 2008 the Federal Antimonopoly Service declared the Ministry of Agriculture a violator of Clause 2, Part 1, Article 15 of the law due to idleness resulting into unjustified barriers to companies' activities of seafood export to the EU States which might cause limitation of competition. Along with the above, Russia's Ministry of Agriculture and Rosselkhoznadzor were declared violators of Part 3, Article 15 of the law due to endowing of National Fish Safety with the powers and rights of a government authority.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rosselkhoznadzor received the corresponding instructions according to the above decision of the Federal Antimonopoly Service. However, the Ministry appealed the decision concerning its activities at court.

Moscow's Arbitrage satisfied the appeal of the Ministry of Agriculture about invalidation of the decision and instruction of Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service, however, the Ninth Court of Arbitration satisfied a counter appeal from the Antimonopoly Service, cancelled the decision of the court of primary jurisdiction and adjudicated dismissal of the Ministry's appeal thus confirming legality and validity of the decision and instruction of the antitrust body.

The Court of Appeal has also confirmed rectitude of Federal Antimonopoly Service.

Perhaps, the powers of inspection will be handed over to Russia's Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor), but this may take time, said Okeanrybflot.

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