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Government Faces $376 Million Claim From Kiwifruit Growers


21 October 2015


Government Faces $376 Million Legal Claim From Kiwifruit Growers

The Kiwifruit Claim class action will go to the High Court next year with 212 growers and post-harvest operators signed up seeking almost $400 million in damages for the government’s alleged negligence in letting the Psa-v disease into New Zealand in 2010.

An initial judgment on the substantive points may not be available until mid-2017.

As the deadline to sign up closed last Friday, growers representing 32% of the total gold kiwifruit crop as at 2009/10 and 13% of the Green crop were confirmed as having completed the process of signing by to the Claim.

“The growers who have signed up to the claim estimate they alone have suffered losses of $376.4 million as a result of the outbreak,” spokesman for the Kiwifruit Claim Matthew Hooton said.

“We expect the Treasury will need to include the claim as a contingent liability in the December Economic and Fiscal Update being prepared now.

“The Kiwifruit Claim believes we have a good chance of success. We allege that the government was negligent when it let a specific shipment of anthers from a Psa-ravaged part of China into New Zealand, and that this negligence is what caused the losses to kiwifruit growers during the subsequent Psa-v outbreak across the country.

“The government denies that direct connection. It also denies that its decision to let in the anthers from an infected part of China was negligent and even denies it owes a duty of care to growers in protecting our country from pests and diseases anyway.

“We think the government does have a legal duty of care to growers, as well as its obvious moral and political duty to all New Zealanders to take the utmost care when protecting our country’s agriculture and unique native flora and fauna from foreign pests, and it should be accountable through the courts when it carries out its critical biosecurity role.”

The High Court set 9 October as the final date for growers to join the claim, after confirming the claim meets all of the requirements to proceed as a class action and approved the litigation funder and the funding arrangements.


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