Legal Battle Unfolds as Biffa Waste Services Seeks £200M from Scottish Government

Legal Battle Unfolds as Biffa Waste Services Seeks £200M from Scottish Government

Biffa Waste Services Ltd has taken legal action against Scottish ministers, initiating a legal battle to recoup around £200 million resulting from their involvement in the government's terminated bottle recycling scheme. The company's legal representatives have filed a case in the Court of Session, seeking to recover a £150 million loss incurred due to the collapse of the SNP and Greens' flagship deposit return initiative, along with subsequent foregone profits. Biffa has engaged Roddy Dunlop KC, who serves as the dean of the faculty of advocates, to represent them in this legal dispute.

According to Biffa, the Scottish government misrepresented the feasibility of the scheme by offering personal assurances, particularly from Green Party co-leader Lorna Slater, which prompted Biffa to invest £55 million in vehicles and equipment in readiness for the scheme's implementation. Unfortunately, Slater, who previously held the position of minister for green skills, circular economy, and biodiversity, terminated the scheme in June the following year. This decision came after the UK government declined to grant full exemption from the Internal Market Act, thereby preventing Scotland from including glass within the scheme's operations.

An undisclosed source disclosed to the Sunday Mail newspaper that Biffa entered into the agreement based on assurances regarding the scheme's deliverability and the Scottish government's unwavering commitment, particularly provided by Lorna Slater. The source claimed that Biffa is of the opinion that the Scottish government negligently misrepresented the guarantees provided and did not highlight the necessity for approval under the UK Internal Market Act. In response to the situation, a Biffa spokesperson emphasized that the company was chosen by Circularity Scotland Limited as the logistical partner for the scheme, investing substantial amounts in its successful execution based on the belief that the scheme was endorsed by the Scottish government. Subsequently, after careful evaluation with their advisors, Biffa has opted to pursue legal action to seek redress for the losses they have suffered.

The deposit return scheme was designed to enhance recycling rates by imposing a 20p refundable deposit on each beverage container returned. Under a decade-long contract, Biffa was appointed to manage the collection of all recycled containers throughout Scotland, with expectations of profits exceeding £100 million.