Kiwifruit growers granted right to sue Government over the vine disease PSA

The growers are claiming that Biosecurity NZ was negligent in allowing PSA to be introduced into New Zealand, costing New Zealand at least $885 million.They say it should be held accountable and pay damages for all forseeable losses. At the moment 72 growers and post-harvest operators are part of the court action; they say their losses so far total $280 million.The High Court in Wellington yesterday ruled it could sue the Crown for damages. It ordered that all growers wanting to join the court action have until early October to sign up. That will cost a one-off fee of $500, $1000 or $1500 depending on the size of their orchard, and post-harvest operators for a one-off fee of $10,000. The Kiwifruit Claim chairman John Cameron said the result was expected because he believed it had a strong case.

A judgement from the High Court at Wellington has ruled in favour of The Kiwifruit Claim and against the Crown on all substantial points.Kiwifruit growers and post-harvest operators who were negatively affected by Psa have until Friday 9 October 2015 to sign up to The Kiwifruit Claim, the court has ruled. The court said growers and post-harvest operators should be allowed to bring the proceedings as a representative or class action, which had been opposed by the Crown Law Office (CLO). The court said there was no objection to the litigation funder, LPF Litigation Funding Limited, a 100% kiwi-owned company, and approved the terms of the funding agreement, which had been signed by an initial 72 growers and post-harvest operators. An initial $250,000 security for costs is to be lodged by LPF, increasing as the litigation progresses. Most importantly for growers and post-harvest operators still to make a decision about joining the claim, the court set Friday 9 October 2015 as the deadline for others to join the litigation. The chairman of The Kiwifruit Claim, John Cameron, said the result was expected. “We believe we have a strong case and we’re getting our day in court to see this through,” Mr Cameron said. The Kiwifruit Claim spokesperson, Matthew Hooton, said, as of today, 72 growers and one post-harvest operator had registered and paid their one-off fee completing the formal paperwork to sign up to the claim. The plaintiffs are represented by a committee consisting of Mr Cameron (Chairman), Bob Burt and Grant Eynon. It is expected additional plaintiffs will join the claim now it has been given the go ahead by the High Court. “It’s entirely up to growers and post-harvest operators to decide whether or not to join the claim and they should leave plenty of time before Friday 9 October to read through all the documents and get their own independent legal advice,” Mr Hooton said. “In a nutshell, the claim alleges that Biosecurity NZ was negligent in allowing Psa to be introduced into New Zealand, costing New Zealand at least $885 million, according to Biosecurity NZ’s own independent study, and the plaintiffs believe it should be held accountable and pay damages for all foreseeable losses.


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