CIVB v. Alerte aux Toxiques et al

RG 20/01049 // RG 21/01405
October 21, 2020
Provisional judgment
France, Libourne

Economic stakeholders
Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bordeaux (CIVB)
Valérie Murat, NGO Alerte aux Toxiques
Antoine Carbonnier, Eric Morain

Criminal court
That the defendants be ordered to cease the dissemination of documents entitled Analyses de résidus de pesticides dans les vins on the website and social networks under a penalty of 5,000€ per day of delay... That the defendants be condemned in solidum to pay a sum of 100.000€ to the CIVB for the prejudices suffered...
Judicial Court of Libourne, France

February 25, 2021
The court says that the report published by the association is disparaging... Condemns the defendants to pay to the CIVB the sum of 100,000€ for the moral prejudice of damage to the image of Bordeaux wines... Enjoins the defendants to delete the dissemination of the documents... on the website of the organization and the social networks... under penalty of 500€ per day after a period of 15 days from the notification of the decision...
National law

The court of Libourne has fined Alerte aux Toxiques €125,000 for releasing analyses showing the presence of pesticides in 22 HVE labeled wines (High Environmental Value), considering that it was prejudicial to the estates and wine industry of Bordeaux. On Sept. 15, 2020, Alerte aux Toxiques published its analyses of 22 HVE certified wines, which revealed pesticide residues, including some CMR. It considers the HVE certification to be "a decoy since it does not prohibit synthetic pesticides". The Comité Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bordeaux (CIVB) and about 30 professional organizations of the region file a lawsuit on Oct. 21, 2020 for disparagement of Bordeaux wines, causing serious harm to owners and the wine industry. The hearings took place on Oct. 29 and Dec. 17, 2020 and the judgment was pronounced on Feb. 25, 2021. It is "a social execution of Valerie Murat that has been ordered by the court of Libourne", according to his lawyer Eric Morain, emphasizing that his client does not have such a sum. Valérie Murat is appealing the decision in March 2021, but the sentence is not suspensive. CIVB asks for the appeal to be struck out, considering that the appeal procedure is conditional on the execution of the penalties imposed in the first instance, including the payment of €105,000 in fines to Bordeaux Wines, and €25,000 to the other plaintiffs. The hearing on this issue is set for Oct. 13, 2021. On 10 November 2021, the Bordeaux Court of Appeal ruled that Valérie Murat could not appeal against her conviction by the Libourne court on February 25, 2021 for denigrating Bordeaux wines until she had paid in full the fine of €125,000 to which she had been sentenced. According to Mrs Murat, even if she paid her whole salary, it would take her 10 years to pay the full €125,000 imposed by the Libourne court, the heaviest sentence in Europe in a case of this kind. This is precisely the aim of a SLAPP: "For CIVB, which has a budget of €19 million, the aim is not to win, but to silence me, and I will never keep quiet.” She is launching an appeal for financial support in order to continue the legal battle, and has two years to raise the required amount.