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Over 20% of Gold Production Now Pledged to Kiwifruit Claim

Over 20% of Gold Production Now Pledged to Kiwifruit Claim

Kiwifruit growers representing over 20% of New Zealand gold kiwifruit production have already pledged to join The Kiwifruit Claim, the chairman of the claim’s grower committee, John Cameron, said today.

The Kiwifruit Claim was launched on Monday and is a class action alleging negligence by the then Biosecurity NZ in allowing Psa into New Zealand.

All kiwifruit growers have been invited to join the class action for a one-off fee of $500, $1000 or $1500 depending on the size of their orchard. Post-harvest operators may join the class action for a one-off fee of $10,000. Only growers and post-harvest operators that sign up to the action can benefit from any settlement or award of damages.

Beyond these one-off contributions from growers and post-harvest operators, the cost of the litigation, including any security for costs orders or adverse costs, is being met entirely by local litigation funder, LPF Group Ltd. It will then take a percentage of any settlement or award of damages.

LPF, which is chaired by former Court of Appeal and Supreme Court judge Bill Wilson QC, has agreed to support the litigation because it believes it is meritorious and has a high chance of success. The claim’s legal team includes Alan Galbraith QC, Matthew Dunning QC and Parker & Associates.

The claim is based on conventional duty of care principles, the Biosecurity Act, recent Supreme Court cases that support the existence of a duty of care in circumstances such as these, and a DNA study which identifies that a shipment of material Biosecurity NZ allowed into New Zealand in June 2009 was the source of the Psa incursion.

Mr Cameron said the speed with which growers were signing up to The Kiwifruit Claim was “staggering”.

“Signed legal documents are arriving faster than we expected and the number of inquiries from other growers has kept the committee and our advisors busy pretty much around the clock,” Mr Cameron said.

“We understand for some this is a big decision, and that trustees and company directors are all legally required to consider seriously and thoroughly whether being part of the action is in the best interests of their trust’s beneficiaries or company.

“Because of this, growers and post-harvest operators have three more weeks to make a decision about whether or not to be involved – bearing in mind that once they have paid their initial contributions, they cannot be asked to pay any more for the proceedings so there is only upside from being part of the action.”

Mr Cameron announced that The Kiwifruit Claim would hold its first meeting for growers and post-harvest operators at 4.00 pm on Wednesday 8 October at the Te Puke Sport building.

The grower committee, Mr Dunning and representatives of LPF would all be present to take questions.


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