High Court judge Justice Senan Allen has refused to grant Lidl an injunction against the IFA to prevent it from republishing adverts in relation to the IFA's campaign on labelling.
IFA president Tim Cullinan welcomed the decision of the High Court to refuse the injunction, adding that the action was “an attempt by Lidl to silence [the] IFA”.
“I am delighted that the court has declined Lidl’s injunction application and provisionally awarded costs against Lidl,” he said.
Cullinan said the ongoing drive by retailers towards using their own brands was undermining the people who actually produced the products.
“Lidl went a step further by inventing ‘fake farms’ and a ‘phantom creamery’. They should stop this immediately,” he said.
A spokesperson for Lidl told the Irish Farmers Journal: “Lidl regrets having to take the step of legal action against the IFA however we are a proud supporter of the Irish agri-food industry and we are determined to protect our reputation at all costs.
“We look forward to a full hearing of this case at a later date. Until then, we will continue to work with over 300 food producers on this island and indirectly support thousands more jobs in the agri-food industry.”
On 19 March, Lidl launched legal proceedings against the IFA over an advert in the Sunday Independent which said that milk for sale in Lidl and Aldi, branded Coolree Creamery (Lidl) and Clonbawn Irish Dairy (Aldi), came from non-existent dairies.
Lidl described the advert as defamatory and launched legal proceedings against the IFA.
Justice Allen heard the injunction case on 16 April and delivered his judgement this Friday.
The IFA said it will continue to push the Government to establish the new food ombudsman's office without delay, adding that one of their first asks should be for a forensic investigation into labelling and margins across the entire food supply chain.
“It is very difficult for individual farmers and suppliers to challenge major retailers given the disparity in scale and resources.
"However, [the] IFA will continue to call out these practices without fear or favour,” Cullinan said.
The IFA said that marketing strategies such as Lidl’s undermine farmers’ hard work and the role of farm families in the food supply chain.
“It is for this reason that yesterday we launched a joint campaign Sustaining Ireland with Agri Aware. This campaign brings real farmers to the forefront and tells their stories,” an IFA spokesperson said.