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Press release June 15, 2009 Business

Battle of the Bottle ends in Court


In relation to the High Court case of
J.N.Dairies Ltd (Claimant) v Johal Dairies Ltd (1st Defendant) & Gurbir Singh (2nd Defendant)

Judgment laid down on 12 June 2009, 10:30am at the Royal Courts of Justice (High Court), London


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday 12th June, 10.30am, UK:20 years of bitter rivalry has culminated in a High Court judgement laid down in London earlier today by His Honour Judge David Cooke in favour of J.N.Dairies,one of the leaders in chilled dairy distribution in the UK,in a lawsuit against local competitor Johal Dairies and illegal immigrant Mr Gurbir Singh.

The extraordinary High Court trial lasting eight days at Birmingham's Civil Justice Centre between 10 and 19 March 2009, saw Wolverhampton and Leicester based Johal Dairies, found to have acted unlawfully by paying an illegal immigrant, Mr Gurbir Singh, £40,000 to steal information from rival supplier J.N.Dairies that contained the volumes, addresses and prices that it was supplying its customers, which it then used in price negotiations to unlawfully win J.N.Dairies' business. Mr Gurbir Singh was paid by Johal to flee to India prior to the trial, so was not present, neither represented.

Prior to the case coming to court for trial, several of the hundreds of independent convenience stores and small supermarkets across the trading areas that are served by both companies, were approached by Johal Dairies, making use of the confidential information stolen on their behalf from J.N.Dairies to win customers. Comments were made such as, "J.N.Dairies would lose the court case and this would finish them off." As an attempt to win business, a Johal Dairies director Gurnek Johal, for example, had said to a customer, "J.N.Dairies would be wiped out", while another director Surbjit Johal (known as "Jitty"), was found to have been saying, "Singh finished, Singh finished, come to us" (referring to Jaspal Singh Nijjar, a director of J.N.Dairies).

At the same time further damning evidence came to light over tactics employed by Johal Dairies to entice customers to its business, and which has exposed the business to the wrath of farmers. J.N.Dairies customers testified that they had been offered cheap milk by Johal Dairies with one customer offered four weeks milk supply free while another was offered free milk for three months. Such practice is strongly condemned by the National Farmers Union as well as Farmers For Action.

In a damning judgment, His Honour Judge David Cooke comprehensively rejected Johal Dairies' evidence that was principally given by brothers Surbjit (Jitty) and Gurnek Johal, declaring it "highly unconvincing" and "implausible" and that Gurbir Singh stole the invoices as part of a "prearranged plan" organised by Surbjit Johal and was paid a minimumof £40,000 for doing so.

In a statement after the judgment was laid down, Jaspal Singh Nijjar, Director and Founder of J.N.Dairies said: "We are delighted to have won this case. We do not have a problem with fair competition, and indeed have been successfully competing with Johal Dairies and other companies for a number of years, but unlawful activity to attack our business will not be tolerated by J.N.Dairies, nor will the law allow anyone to get away with it. I would like to thank those customers, non customers and independent witnesses who were willing to testify in court about these unacceptable practices, and for supporting us through this difficult episode."

In his summing-up His Honour Judge David Cooke declared that:

  • The second defendant, Gurbir Singh, stole "all the invoices that J.N.Dairies had put out for all of its customers on all of its rounds", the theft of which was a "prearranged plan" with Surbjit (Jitty) Johal and arrangements "had been made in the course of the previous week during the telephone calls that were shown to have been made from the telephones of Mr Surbjit Johal and Mr Gurnek Johal".
  • The second defendant then went to the Johal Dairies premises and handed the invoices to Surbjit (Jitty) Johal.
  • The second defendant was paid by Johal Dairies for his part in this scheme, "in particular by payment of £40,000 and his cost of travel to India. He may well have received or been promised additional benefits".
  • Johal Dairies then made use of the stolen invoices for "the purpose of approaching or negotiating with various customers of J.N.Dairies".

A further hearing is due to take place in July where the Judge will determine what sanctions are to be imposed on Johal Dairies.

- ENDS -

For more information on the case, please contact William Neville of Burges Salmon on 0117 939 2202. For press enquiries, contact J.N.Dairies on 0844 800 7740 and ask for Manrupe Nijjar.