From the debate about sugar content, the reformulation of food and shrinkflation, to what Brexit will mean for the international food supply chain. Whether discussing the adoption of new technology, the challenges of sourcing workers or food information regulations, the pace of change in the food industry has never been so fast.
Our Food Sector specialists work throughout the food supply chain - from farm to fork, across the EU and beyond - supporting new entrants as well as household names in making their products a success.
We are always at the centre of the major issues. Our relationships with regulators and key influencers ensure we deliver bigger picture solutions.– Hilary Ross
True sector experts
Whatever your needs, you can rely on us to direct you clearly and in a way that’s relevant to your business. We anticipate, understand and challenge the legal framework, focussing on what you need to know to achieve growth and your commercial needs.
Staying on top of the latest trends
Whilst there are challenges ahead - particularly given that 95% of the sector's regulation comes from the EU - the opportunity to influence the shape of the future of food regulation in the UK is greater than ever. Read about how the 5 biggest food sector trends might impact your business >Find out more about how our Food Sector team can help you by clicking on the boxes below:
Consumers take food safety for granted. We understand, however, that food manufacturing businesses face endless challenges in producing safe and compliant food.
Even with a HACCP-based food safety system in place, we know that things can go wrong. Whether it's an inadvertent allergen or pest control issue, or a foreign body finding its way into food – we have the experience to help guide you through the quagmire of issues and reduce the risk to your business of rising fines.
We can even 'health check' your processes, to help you determine how well you would react, in the event of a crisis. With food safety fines now reaching the highest ever levels, where even pest control cases can see fines of over £600,000 and damage your reputation – you can trust us to support you, whatever your needs.
Multiple branches of our client's restaurant simultaneously suffered a norovirus outbreak, likely due to it being introduced by one of its suppliers. Civil claims and a regulatory investigation followed.
We provided a full crisis response service, basing ourselves at our client's head office and working through the day-to-day issues with them. We also aligned our client with its insurer, devising a common strategy.
No regulatory action was taken. The number of claims and financial loss were significantly reduced, recovery opportunities against the supplier were considered and reputation was protected.
Our client manufactured ready meals for a household name retailer and discovered that one of its ingredients had been substituted for an ingredient containing egg - this was not declared on the product.
We supported the client through the recall and in dealing with the retailer, in order to ensure a positive outcome. Then when the regulators shined the spotlight on our client's systems we helped mitigate the risk.
We persuaded the regulators that there was no food safety breach and that our clients had taken all reasonable precautions to ensure the product was safe.
Food businesses have some of the world's most instantly recognisable brands. We know that you work incredibly hard to get the best return from your brand and accompanying marketing strategy. We have considerable experience helping businesses launch products across the EU, including dealing with the challenges of location-specific regulators.
How can we help you?
Advertising & Marketing
From multi-jurisdictional comparative health claims advertising to above-and below-the-line campaigns, we have unrivalled experience of helping food businesses derive value from their marketing strategy. From conception to execution we are there at every step of the way to help you drive down risk and maximise return.
Our client has a range of brands. It wanted to help consumers understand that they could save money by switching from market leaders to its products, whilst still enjoying the same great quality and taste.
Comparative advertising is very high risk. We helped our client design a campaign that achieved its strategic objectives, whilst being totally defensible, if challenged by competitors.
The campaign was a huge commercial success, driving a substantial increase in sales. Whilst high risk, we have ensured there have not been any successful challenges to the regulators about the campaign.
Labelling & Health Claims
In a survey we conducted, of over 100 C-Suite executives from leading food manufacturers, packaging and product regulation was seen as the second biggest factor threatening growth. We provide expert advice on how to ensure your products are compliant, whilst still maximising commercial opportunities.
To help make food labelling simple, DWF has produced an interactive food label. This tool makes it easier for you understand the food information regulations and ensure your product labelling is compliant.
We know how important it is to be able to explain the health or nutritional benefits of your food. The Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation, however, makes it much more difficult to do this creatively and effectively. When you are only permitted to use the approved wording it can make all products sound the same. We have huge experience of supporting clients with creative campaigns and labelling to ensure that they achieve their marketing objectives, whilst still complying with the law.
The Advertising Standards Authority held that references to antioxidants were not permitted on labels, even when accompanied by authorised health claims for vitamin C or E. This had significant implications for our client and the soft drinks industry more widely.
Other member states have a different approach to this term. They recognise that there is an approved claim for the antioxident properties of vitamin C and allow the terms usage on that basis. We therefore obtained confirmation of this from seven key member states to present to the regulator.
We provided our clients with legal opinions from five key member states, to demonstrate that the UK was out of step with other member states. We also worked with The Department of Health to agree how such claims should be dealt with, in the future.
Intellectual Property & Licensing
It is possible to protect everything - from the recipe and production method of your products to the branding used in their marketing.
We not only help to ensure your assets, and your brand, are protected and secure but that you have the right strategy in place to ensure they stay this way. We also have vast experience in ensuring that you are able to make the most of the IP that you have. We are recognised for our skill in putting together complex licensing agreements - designed to prevent disputes and present opportunities for growth - as well as for acting decisively and quickly in pursuing litigation relating to the infringement of IP.
Tangerine Confectionery wished to maximise the benefits of its IP in relation to non-food products and to derive further income.
We advised on a licensing management agreement whereby the management company agrees licences on behalf of Tangerine.
The agreement resulted in increased income for Tangerine - utilising its food brands on third party non-food items, whilst protecting its brands .
Driving regulatory change
We are at the centre of food regulation. Two of our Partners sit on the BEIS's Better Regulation panel and we have hosted the last two Chairs of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select committee, as well as several Ministers of State. This all gives us a unique insight, helping us to give clients a 'big picture' insight into what is coming next.
As well as supporting clients with presenting their own evidence to Select Committees, several of our lawyers have been through the experience, themselves, giving evidence on a range of topics. From horsemeat to changes in the sentencing guidelines for food safety offences, we have guided clients through the space between the political and the legal.
When things need to change we have a track record of helping our clients find innovative solutions to their regulatory challenges.
Our client is Europe's leading mozzarella manufacturer and has created an innovative product. After years of challenges to the legality of its product, by a competitor (which were found to be baseless) our client was notified that its product was the subject of proposed infraction proceeding, against the UK government.
Drawing on our industry leading regulatory experience, we compiled a dossier of evidence including expert and former CJEU judges' opinions to support the legality of our client's product. We then met with regulators, not only from the EU but also domestic and other member states, in order to persuade them of our client's product and its legality.
After 2 years of negotiations we persuaded the EU that the product was lawfully named and labelled and no action was taken.
Food manufacturers are facing tension when trying to source the best quality ingredients at the cheapest price. Trying to meet these demands, when health considerations and reformulation are top of the Government’s agenda and technology is offering new solutions, but requires substantial investment, makes this a complex scenario.
In such a highly-regulated sector there are always changes and potential crises on the horizon. We’re always at the forefront of developments and can help you stay prepared.
Many products have specific requirements, affecting the ingredients that they contain or how they might be marketed. We understand the regulatory hurdles, as well as the product development process. We can help guide you and ensure you get the product you imagined, but in a compliant way.
We can help you to make sure that the ‘fantastic new ingredient’, you have found, is not considered ‘novel’ (and therefore requiring approval before it can be used), or that that additive is permitted, that the super food you want to use can actually deliver the benefits that you intend – and you are permitted to describe them.
Over the last decade, the nation’s increasing waistbands and sedentary lifestyle have resulted in an obesity crisis. This has led to the sugar levy in the UK, similar taxes arriving in Ireland and France and increasing calls for action to be taken in relation to HFSS products, their composition and promotion.
PHE published sugar composition and calorie reduction targets for nine food categories. This, together with the sugar levy, has seen the industry take up the mantle and work on reformulation of products to lower their sugar content.
But, what is next? Can we expect more work on total calories? What about the identification of other types of ‘unhealthy’ foods? Will other routes to market, like the online platforms, be next in the crosshairs? From trade associations, to drinks manufacturers to confectionary providers, we have helped our clients to find solutions to this issue and understand its implications, including how nutrition policy may be challenged.
Origin of products
Since the horsemeat scandal, food manufacturers have felt pressure from supermarkets and consumers alike to ensure they have full visibility of their supply chain.
We are always at the centre of the major issues. Our relationships with regulators and key influencers ensure we deliver bigger picture solutions. During the horsemeat scandal we supported clients appearing at Parliamentary Select Committees and dealing with regulators - working with them to investigate and enhance the legal strength of their supply chain. We were asked contribute to the Elliott Review, commissioned by the Government to look at the integrity and assurance of food supply networks.
Now, we are working with clients on new and innovative ways to manage supply chain, including understanding how technology like blockchain can be adopted as a food authenticity and traceability tool.
Our client approached us regarding an investigation being carried out by the police and trading standards into meat, that it had sold, being sold on by a third party, with what appeared to be fraudulent 'use by' dates.
We helped our client to investigate the situation and understand the respective regulatory duties. We ensured that in helping the regulator with its investigation, our client did not harm their brand or reputation.
The regulators received the information they needed to build a case against the third party. This ultimately resulted in that party being prosecuted. There was no investigation against our client.
Food Manufacturers have more options than ever when it comes to taking products to market. Online channels make accessing a global marketplace, and selling directly to customers, easier for manufacturers. But relationships with supermarkets are still important. Whatever your path to market we can help ensure you are protected at every step.
Direct-to-Consumer & e-Commerce
E-Commerce remains the fastest-growing sector of the grocery market and, with the discounters venturing into this space, will direct sales-to-consumer be the next step?
With big technology players like Amazon entering the grocery market, and Uber entering the food-to-go market, the opportunities for food brands to reach consumers, through these new channels, has never been greater.
Business are able to offer wider ranges of products, to consumer bases, to complement the existing traditional sales channels.
Our Food Sector experts have significant experience in helping clients maximise the opportunities from these new and diverse channels.
Making the most of your data
Data is now big business. From improving the targeting of marketing to general sales strategies - with GDPR on the horizon it's important to have a robust data strategy, covering both external customer data and your internal employee data.
Our Privacy & Information Law specialists are recognised for their expertise in helping at all stages of the data cycle.
Should the worst happen…
Cyber risk has quickly become one of the biggest threats a business can face. Decisions made in the first hours of a crisis have reputational impacts that can resound for years. Our experts can help you to prepare and manage a cyber crisis to reduce damage to your business and its reputation.
Making the most out of your data
We can also advise on how to make the most of your data. Using the latest business intelligence techniques and tools like predictive analytics, we can assist you with finding answers in your data (to create efficiencies), cost savings and opportunities for your business.
GSCOP has impacted how retailers and their suppliers do business. We have supported our clients with ensuring that their UK contractual relationships are compliant.
A dairy producer based in France had been de-listed by a major UK supermarket.
The circumstances surrounding the de-listing were outside of the Code of Practice and the supermarket had not appreciated the full effect of the de-listing on the supplier.
We facilitated discussions, resulting in a large financial settlement. The dairy was re-instated as a supplier to the retailer in question.
No matter how you decide to take your product to market, it's always important to protect your brand.
Haulage & Logistics
Protecting your supply chain doesn't stop at sourcing and processing food. Food manufacturers need to ensure that their haulage and logistics provisions are compliant, so that their product can reach their customers without complication.
We understand how critical transport and logistics is to business - and how vital it is, post-Brexit, that your just-in-time supply chain does not end up as ‘just-too-late’. Given that the average time it takes for a non-EU truck, with clean papers, to pass through the port, is about three hours, the risk that our borders will not allow free flow of foods is a significant concern to food manufacturers.We advise food manufacturers on how to manage transport compliance including auditing transport risk and providing training in how to manage risk in a transport setting. We represent vehicle operators at public inquiries - protecting their valuable operator licences or helping them to expand their existing transport operations. Our dedicated, globally-recognised litigation experts, specialising in carriage of goods disputes, also defend DVSA prosecutions and represent food manufacturers in disputes with the UK Border Agency.
Advances in technology are impacting every area of food manufacturing and the businesses involved. The development in e-Commerce is changing the way food businesses take their products to market. Production techniques, such as 3D printing, robotics, alternative proteins and nanotechnology, are changing the formulation of foodstuffs. Smart factory design, blockchain technology and autonomous vehicles are changing the face of supply chain and logistics.
How can we help?
Our Food Technology Team can help guide you through the legal challenges that come with the development of innovative products and technology, ensuring that you can maximise the commercial value.
A confectionary maker wanted to launch a 3D printed sweets machine in the UK and beyond. They needed our help to understand the regulatory and legal framework for doing this.
Whilst the law has not caught up with technology, such as 3D printing, we found a solution for our client that enabled it to give its customers confidence that all regulatory issues had been addressed and that the product was entirely safe.
The product very successfully launched in the UK and is now being rolled out across the globe with an amazing range of customisable sweets for consumers to enjoy.
Our research found that 77% of food manufacturers plan to increase their tech budget by 2020. From the greater-automation of factories and the increased efficiencies this will deliver, to the adoption of technology elsewhere in the supply chain, the ways this will affect the industry are varied and widespread.
From Privacy & Data Protection concerns to cyber crime and hacking, from outsourcing and insourcing agreements to changing the demographic of your workforce to those with more tech skills – we can help you make the most of technology innovation to benefit your business.
DWF’s experience in this field stands out. Across the firm we have won many awards for innovation - often utilising the power of new technology ourselves through our own technology business DWF 360. We use this technology to take away the day-to-day administration of co-ordinating and managing major projects with you. We also right size our specialist teams and insist on delivering the highest value to you.
Both the EU and the UK government have set out clear visions for how the circular economy - using every aspect of a products lifecycle - is essential to economic growth. From the focus on clean energy through to anaerobic digestion plants, from reducing the use of plastic waste, throughout the supply chain, to the ‘eco-design’ of equipment or using excess capacity or unused products in the supply chain. Every aspect of the supply chain and manufacturing process is being considered for its environmental impact and commercial opportunity.
This leads to both challenge and, more importantly, opportunity. There are opportunities to look at waste or by-products, for which a new alternative market can be found - whether it is misshaped vegetables being repurposed in cooked meals, recycling waste packaging as a third product or seeking out ways to become energy self-sufficient through the use of waste to produce energy.
Managing your energy supply
We work for food and drink manufacturers and retailers on energy supply and management arrangements, regulatory aspects (in respect of re-sale of electricity and gas), as well as on the procurement of on-and-off balance sheet decentralised energy solutions. Our expertise enables our clients to achieve their ambitious energy efficiency targets and reduction of carbon emissions, and to combat rising energy bills.
Generating revenue from waste
The economic, social and environmental impact of food waste recycling is dominating the press, at the moment. Controversial issues over food waste supplies have been politicised by debates on food banks and, increasingly, this has had an impact on the renewables energy sector (for example anaerobic digestion (AD)). Due to this increased attention today's ‘ethical consumer’ is becoming increasingly interested in how food manufacturers and retailers dispose of their food waste.Find out how consumer concern about single-use plastics is driving regulatory change >
A client was looking for a way to deal with their dairy waste products, channelling energy generated from the dairy waste back into the manufacturing facility as well as getting any other additional benefits from the process.
We assisted the client structuring the innovative AD project, in particular the set-up of the flow of green gas certificates to help the client to reduce carbon emissions.
The development of the AD plant and additional green gas certificates structure assisted the client with its green credentials and to claim the ambitious zero carbon status of the manufacturing plant.
When it comes to safety in the workplace, the new sentencing regime means that the stakes have never been higher - and compliance never more important or such good relative value – for businesses.
The changes have been significant and complicated. First the introduction of the new sentencing guidelines, then changes to the rules on early guilty pleas and now changes to sentencing guidelines for gross negligence manslaughter. Since the sentencing guidelines changed, Bakkavor, Warburtons and Greencore have all been prosecuted for safety offences, each having received fines over £1m and totalling £6.9m for safety offences.
DWF has been at the centre of developments in safety law since the days of such seminal cases as HTM and Porter. We advised on the first corporate manslaughter case to go to trial and were instructed in two of the first three cases prosecuted, as well as the first successful defence. Under fire safety law we were involved in the first appeal case and the second Secretary of State determination.
Throughout all that, we have been pushing for positive change for industry, as well as prioritising working collaboratively with both clients and the regulator to avoid a prosecution being brought at all. We are the only law firm to boast the Chairman of the Health and Safety Lawyers Association as a Partner and our unrivalled experience in this area is recognised by Chambers and Partners as our being; 'a major player and incredibly strong'.
As just one example, during the consultation for the guidelines we were the only firm to conduct live consultation feedback with the Chairman of the Sentencing Guidelines Council and we were the only law firm to have not just one, but two lawyers give evidence to the Justice Select Committee on the impact of the guidelines and see change as a result.
DWF Crisis Response brings together specialist consultants with detailed knowledge of managing crisis situations for your business. These include lawyers, PR specialists, clinical psychologists, IT forensics specialists and industry bodies as well as consultants specialising in safeguarding online reputation.
Our consultants take the time needed to understand your business and to help you incorporate any crisis response and recovery plans into your business structures. If a crisis hits we help you communicate with internal and external stakeholders, ensuring that information is collected, kept confidential and circulated to the right people at the right time.
We can also help you prepare for the worst case scenario through our crisis management plan preparation or reviews and specialised crisis and incident training programmes.
A crisis is a time for clear thinking, we impose order, enable you to see the bigger picture and bring sound judgement and skills to bear.
Our client was visited by the HSE late one evening. Our client was suspected of causing a legionella outbreak in Edinburgh.
We discussed what would happen and first thing the following morning we were on-site, in the boardroom of the factory, with two directors, various senior managers and their PR consultants. For two weeks we dealt with the daily issues and managed the situation locally, taking strategic decisions on how best to position the company.
Despite there being a number of challenging issues, our work delivered a positive result. Our client was the only company, involved in the investigation for whom no enforcement action was ever taken.
There has never been a better time to invest in compliance.
We understand all businesses rely on systems to help them reduce the chances of problems occurring. In larger, de-centralised businesses - where safety is a central function – it can be a challenge, finding systems that give you the clear level of understanding and insight you need, as well as opportunities to record changes and areas of learning, along the way.
Our software solutions division, DWF 360, has developed our suite of fully configurable software to give you the tools to manage your organisational risk. They allow you to centralise your monitoring of checks and auditing, together with fully customisable alert systems and a simple streamlined incident reporting system.
EVOSafe is a feature rich audit and risk management continuous improvement solution entirely compatible with the data that you already collect but cannot interrogate. It covers the full range of regulatory risk from cleaning, health and safety checks, food safety, date code checks, licensing, vehicle and equipment maintenance checks, as well as any other form of regulatory validation.
Most importantly EVOSafe looks after the entire compliance lifecycle, including risk prevention, effective process management, collecting your monitoring and auditing data, initial notification of an incident, more robust and speedy accident investigation processes and a robust claims solution. With powerful self-build reporting and Management Information, via a host of reportable fields, you have instant access to the information you need, when you want it and how you want it - saving you time and money and protecting your brand.
With every day with that passes, the position on Brexit appears to change. We know that on 29 March 2019 the UK plans to leave the EU. Yet, nobody is clear exactly what will be coming next. There is likely to be a transition period and following that, a free trade agreement, but exactly what is included in these seems to stay firmly ‘up in the air’.
With over 95% of its current regulation coming from the EU, and being very heavily reliant on a global and EU wide supply chain, the Food Sector will be impacted, uniquely, by Brexit. If the borders fail to work effectively, a short delay will impact significantly on the UK's just-in-time delivery network. Brexit will also mean, however, an opportunity to address some of the more challenging aspects of regulation and to improve the UK's position and competitiveness. But, there will be divergence (both domestically and further afield), as the UK stops following the EU system, and its many positive lists (for example health claims or approved additives).
We want to make sure you have clarity in uncertain times. Whilst the impact of Brexit could be enormous we have focused our support on three core areas most significantly affecting the food sector:
Over 40% of the sector’s labour comes from the EU. We can help support if you’re operating in the areas most likely to be affected. Will you have a shortfall? How is the uncertainty of Brexit affecting your workforce? What steps can you take to reassure and support workers and their families? Whatever your questions, we can help to provide clarity and direction. We can even provide suggestions on alternative pools of labour and on different engagements.
Tariffs, quotas and trade
In moving to the WTO system, the Food Sector will be the most impacted sector. Even if you don’t export final product, the resulting increased supply chain costs will have an effect on your business and your ways of working.
We know that existing EU regulation will be transposed into UK law, but what does that really mean for your business? Do you understand all the nuances of being a third country if any Free Trade Agreement fails to address this?
Just a few of the EU Regulations that have to be transposed:
Employing around 400,000 people directly in the UK, and accounting for 16% of the UK’s total manufacturing sector in turnover, the fact that food and drink is the UK’s largest manufacturing sector is often overlooked.
Despite this, the Food Sector faces a potential skills shortage. It’s estimated the sector will need to recruit another 109,000 people by 2022 to meet growing demand for UK food and it will need to do this within the challenges presented by Brexit.
Our employment experts have a deep and long-standing experience of working with organisations across the Food Sector. We’re committed to speaking to our clients, and the wider industry, to ensure the top priorities and risks for food manufacturing businesses are identified, understood and given the right focus, people and support. Below are our most recent findings:
Every business should make sure they are fully prepared and compliant on the topics covered by our 'three R's'. Our Food Sector Employment experts can help ensure you have responsible people, policies and processes throughout the value chain, as well as preparing for challenges. In particular we’ll help you focus on:
• Wellbeing and engagement
• Family-friendly policies, procedures and flexible working
• Performance support and progression
• Diversity and Inclusion
• Gender Pay Gap
• Equal Pay
• Holiday Pay
• National Living Wage
• Apprenticeship Levy
• Discrimination and Equality
• Health and Safety
• Zero hours contracts and employment status
• Impact of GDPR
• Modern Slavery Act
• Employment Tribunals
• Pay claims
The company acquired an unprofitable dairy, so that they could use them to produce a new product. The purchasing company inherited Terms & Conditions of employment as well as working practices. These made it difficult to make the product profitably and in sufficient quantities to meet anticipated demand.
We project managed a process of reviewing and changing the Terms & Conditions of employment, in particular around working hours, shift patterns and overtime. We led full consultation meetings with staff at the dairy, alongside directors and local management. We also drafted Q & A documents and new contracts of employment, as well as hosting signing clinics to deal with last minute queries.
As a result of this work, the dairy produces significantly more product on a weekly basis and the company is able to meet demand, as well as being profitable.
Advantage online training.
Think ahead! Develop your managers. Improve your business.
Our online training solutions cover key employment issues and are a cost effective, easy way to develop your people and build a more productive business. In a world where time is money, online training is a practical way for organisations to train their staff at their sites, at a time to suit them, and to keep a clear record of the training given.
Food and drink manufacturers are facing increasing pressure as retailers are driving down margins and consumers are becoming more demanding. All of this against a backdrop which estimates that by 2050 there will be more than 9 billion mouths to feed, is creating an opportunity for some manufacturers looking to grow their business in a thriving M&A market.
Our International Corporate Team can help support your business in multiple jurisdictions, at any stage of its journey. Our UK M&A team is one of the five most active in the market. We are known for our expertise in managing high profile, complex deals quickly and efficiently.
Our Corporate Food Team covers the full spectrum of services, from corporate governance and compliance, to structuring and reorganisations. From complex cross-border and domestic M&As to joint venture and capital markets transactions. We draw on the firm's full-service offering to provide seamless, integrated advice across all DWF offices and practice areas.
Our work and experience covers not only transformational transactions but also volume acquisition programmes, including acquisitions of factories (whether from administrators/liquidators or other sellers).
As well as advising on corporate transactions, we provide corporate governance and compliance advice for companies, their directors, shareholders and advisers. Our approach is energetic, decisive and clear. We are grounded in an understanding for your needs and we have a distinctively approachable style.
In its first UK acquisition, Fuchs Group, Germany's largest spice producers, sought to acquire the entire issued share capital of Bart Ingredients, the second largest branded spice company in the United Kingdom.
We advised the Fuchs team on all phases of the acquisition process (including offer letter, due diligence, drafting and negotiation of transaction documentation and the inception of a Buyer Warranty and Indemnity insurance policy) and the post-completion simplification of the target group.
Fuchs Group successfully purchased Bart Ingredients from existing shareholders, including the private equity company, Langholm Capital.
Real estate is a key asset for any business and managing it effectively is vital for business growth and sustainability. We have one of the largest commercial real estate teams in the UK, enabling us to provide expert advice and support across projects of all sizes, as well as acting for a number of national and global food manufacturers.
From acquisitions and disposals to litigation and dispute resolution, we can handle the full spectrum of property and portfolio management.
Our client wished to modernise its production chain by: (a) consolidating its hatchery/smolt production; and (b) manufacturing its own fish feed, for its large number of marine fish. The size of the developments would require interaction with several landowners and landlords.
We negotiated lease agreements and provided documentation for the construction of the hatchery site, including the negotiation of complex water abstraction leases with the owners of a neighbouring river. For the fish feed factory we worked with surveyors to secure a development site and the relevant construction contracts for an £80m facility. We also acquired the foreshore and salmon fishing rights and negotiated with The Crown Estate to allow the construction of a pier infrastructure, to create a port for import/export.
Our client has secured state-of-the-art facilities for the onshore aspects of its business, greatly increasing the efficiency of its operations by: (a) consolidating its hatchery operations on one site; and (b) simplifying its supply chain, thereby increasing its control over its production process by bringing, in-house, the production of its fish feed.
We understand that real estate management doesn't end once you have acquired premises. We can advise beyond this in the procurement of contractors and design team.
We also have specific expertise in advising on the legal management of engineering, purchasing and build-out of production lines and utilities for plants.
Our client has extensive food processing and manufacturing facilities. They were looking to update and streamline their procurement of these projects.
We produced a set of framework agreements, across all of their manufacturing operations. We drafted easy-to-operate forms, since many of the suppliers were not British and unfamiliar with English legal principles.
The roll-out has been extremely successful. Many of the suppliers are employed on more than one project. The legal issues have been dealt with, upfront, and as new projects are approved, procurement is faster.
From your property to your people to your products – we can support you at every stage of your insurance lifecycle. We can help you to ensure every element of your business is insured in a way that saves management time, reduces risk and reduces your claims spend.
Making the most of your insurance
Choosing the right insurer and agreeing terms is incredibly important to your overall business strategy. We're on hand to help ensure you get the coverage fit for your business. We can help by:
• Conducting a policy review: Exposing shortfalls between what you intended your insurance to cover, and what it actually protects.
• Drafting bespoke terms: Working directly with brokers or negotiating with underwriters to ensure you receive the best terms and conditions.
• Managing relationships: Assessing the terms of your retainer with brokers and advising on tenders and appointments.
Product liability and recalls.
In an age of global trade and complex supply chains, liability arising out of the supply of products can be substantial and damaging to reputation. Our product liability experts are experienced in resolving food and drink claims involving injury, fatality, contamination, property damage and economic loss. We can pursue or defend recoveries along the supply chain, including in other jurisdictions, with multi-lingual lawyers and a global network of tried and trusted lawyers and experts.
We advise producers on product recall and withdrawal issues, corrective actions, and related activities - such as demonstrating traceability of affected products and liaising with the regulators to ensure compliance with regulatory obligations.
We frequently act for food businesses and their insurers concurrently. We understand the scope and operation of product liability and recall insurance policies and we help to ensure a positive dialogue between insurer and policyholder, leading to a successful outcome for both. We provide pragmatic and cost-effective advice on modest food claims, through to robust handling of complex group litigation.
A food distributor and its insurer instructed us to defend a claim that it supplied a product contaminated with salmonella, causing "damage" and economic loss.
We scrutinised the supply chain and alternative sources of contamination leading to our contesting the alleged losses. We helped the client demonstrate its responsible actions to the regulator.
A robust and technical repudiation led to the claim being withdrawn, and no regulatory action was taken.
Employer Liability & Public Liability
We have a track record of acting for clients in the food sector, whether on an exclusive nomination basis, in conjunction with other legal service providers as part of a panel arrangement, or via insurers.
We have approximately 1,000 people dedicated to providing defendant Personal Injury services. We have significant food manufacturing-based expertise in relation to all risk profiles associated with business operation. Through this we have developed and implemented strategies and technologies that have successfully lowered claims spend and reduced internal management time, to benefit our clients’ businesses.
Working collaboratively with our clients in the food sector we have:
• Formulated sophisticated defence strategies in relation to the build-up of ice in mobile and static temperature controlled environments to reduce claims.
• Designed defence strategies in relation to the key risk areas for food businesses, such as:
- point of delivery risk transfer; and
- to successfully defend slip and trip claims on behalf of our clients.
We have one of the largest teams of legal advisers dealing with industrial disease litigation in the UK advising on landmark coverage, duty of care, breach of duty and causation issue cases. We handle claims both pre- and post-litigation stage, and provide general strategic advice and updates on wider issues of the day. Volume or niche, we have the capability required of insurers covering long-tail liabilities.
An ex-worker claimed he had routinely inhaled large quantities of flour dust whilst working at a manufacturing site. He began to suffer respiratory problems and was medically retired, two years early. He alleged he suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.
We collated evidence demonstrating that flour dust had been managed since the 1970s and that masks had been worn since 2000. We set out a clear case that demonstrated recent exposure was unlikely. Our medical evidence showed the claimant's respiratory performance had not declined in a way that was consistent with the condition alleged.
The claimant served a schedule of loss, seeking over £120,000 damages for loss of earnings. He offered to compromise damages at £12,000. We maintained a denial and the claim was discontinued weeks before trial.
Motor & Fleet
We understand that your business isn't just about the production of food but the safe procurement and delivery of it, too. Our team can help ensure your haulage and logistics fleet is compliant and protected. Our team is one of the largest in the country, handling in excess of 20,000 claims at any one time – our scale has enabled us to build bespoke teams and centres of excellence.
Our team work closely with Fraud, Motor Prosecutions and Catastrophic Loss lawyers, Business Intelligence and our Costs teams to deliver a comprehensive and seamless service.
We pride ourselves on our data capture and use data analytics to profile solicitors and credit hire organisations, as well as to inform the appropriate strategies to deploy against them to improve the likelihood of success. In addition, by feeding your telematics data into our system we are able to provide analysis on accident trends, by vehicle type, time of day, location and driver experience, which enables you to structure driver safety training.
Claims management the way you want it
EVOClaimTM is an enterprise-capable claims management software platform, which supports and empowers claims teams in resolving claims with greater speed and at a lower cost. It covers the entire claim lifecycle, from first notice of loss through to settlement and claim file closure. It also includes a host of automated reporting, to ensure in-house or self-insured high excess claims are settled quickly, and within the existing standards and compliance structure.
It uses the latest technology to remove the time-consuming elements of a job and automate them. This means less admin and more time to work on the important areas. With flexibility and simplicity at its core, EVOClaim is intuitive and easy to mould to the client's way of working.
As a global legal business, our teams operate wherever you do - from Sydney to Singapore, Seville to Southampton. Wherever you’re based, we support client growth ambitions in over 45 jurisdictions each year. By thinking beyond the conventional we offer services that deliver beyond expectations and borders.
Entering new markets
We know that you need specialists that understand both the law and the risks in every jurisdiction you enter. And we understand that it’s important that they have a relationship with the regulators across all of the locations you work in.
We think you can do better than generalist lawyers, who just happen to be located in the right jurisdiction. Although we have specialists across the globe, if we don't have the right skills in the right place, we have an established network of specialist lawyers that are true experts in the field of food law. Whether working with DWF or one of our chosen partner firms, you can be guaranteed of genuine sector and local expertise and the very highest standards of client service.
Even across Europe where you have the same food law foundation, the interpretation of the legislation changes depending on the EU members states. Our client wanted to roll out a highly regulated food service across, not just the EU, but a number of other jurisdictions, as well. They sought our help in doing this in the lowest risk way possible.
Using our network of specialist food regulatory experts, we supported our client's roll out with expertise, where they needed it. This ensured that they were able to develop local strategies in over 20 markets, to suit their needs.
Our client was able to develop its strategy based on our advice and risk analysis, as well as successfully launching in all chosen jurisdictions.
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Understanding the Food Information Regulations.
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Retail, Food and Hospitality Regulatory Update W/E 17th May. COVID-19 Government information published this week.