Northern Foods is likely to have to wait another 18 months for a verdict, as it takes its fight to prevent Melton Mowbray Pork Pies from gaining Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) to the European Court of Justice.

It announced last week it is continuing a long-running battle against moves by the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association to restrict production of pies to the Melton Mowbray area in Leicestershire.

Restriction would mean Northern Foods would have to review its Melton Mowbray pork pie business, based outside the suggested boundary.

In December 2005, the High Court ruled it was unable to quash the application from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on behalf of the Association for PGI status for the pies. The Court of Appeal turned down a subsequent application by Northern Foods on January 24. It then made a further oral admission to the Court of Appeal on March 14. A ruling in favour of Northern Foods means the case is now being referred to the European Court of Justice. This will provide a preliminary ruling on the defined geographical zone for the pies before another appeal is heard in the UK.

The PGI application by Defra, meanwhile, is deferred until the appeals process is concluded. A spokesperson for Northern Foods was unwilling to divulge the estimated cost of the case, but emphasised the PGI status, if conferred, would be anti-commercial.