UPL v AgChemAccess and ors [2017] EWHC 1880

This judgment, following a three week trial, concerned practices in the heavily EU regulated field of the marketing of agrochemicals. EU law governs this and requires authorisations granted by governmental bodies. UPL alleged that the defendants had conspired by unlawful means to market agrochemicals without authorisation in Germany and other countries in the EU which competed against its own agrochemicals. The first group of defendants were the group which marketed the agrochemicals whereas the second group manufactured in the UK the agrochemicals marketed by the first group. Breaches of agrochemical regulatory law can only be enforced in the UK by the HSE. It also alleged breaches of German unfair competition law and trade mark infringement proceedings.

In her judgment, Proudman J dismissed the allegation based on conspiracy by unlawful means but upheld the German unfair competition law allegations. A number of interesting points of law were adjudicated upon including when one can impugn the testimony of one’s own witness; whether a non-actionable civil wrong can amount to “unlawful means” for the purpose of conspiracy by unlawful means and accessory liability under German law.

Guy Tritton and Tom St.Quintin acted for the UK manufacturer