A Wolverhampton dairy that paid an illegal immigrant to steal information from a rival while posing as a milkman has been told to hand over £200,000 in legal fees to its victim.
Johal Dairies was refused permission earlier this week to appeal against a High Court judgment that found they had paid Gurbir Singh £40,000 to steal information on volumes, addresses and prices from JN Dairies, also based in Wolverhampton, while he was working for them on the daily round.
Johal Dairies then used the information to try to undercut JN by approaching their customers directly.
At the appeal hearing on Monday His Honour Judge David Cooke said there was no prospect of Johal winning an appeal, and ordered them to make an up-front payment of £200,000 towards JN’s legal costs. The court is yet to decide on damages and any further costs or compensation payments.
During the eight-day trial in Birmingham in March, Johal Dairies director Surbjit Johal denied the industrial espionage accusations, but a number of customers said they had been offered cheap or free milk to sign up to Johal dairies instead of JN.
Gurbir Singh, who returned to India when he was sacked after being uncovered as a Johal plant, stole pricing lists while working for JN.
One customer was offered four week’s milk supply free; another was offered free milk for three months. JN Dairies blamed Singh’s actions for losing them a proportion of its market in Staffordshire.
Speaking after the original case, JN founder and director Jaspal Singh Nijjar said: “We do not have a problem with fair competition, but unlawful activity to attack our business will not be tolerated.”