The Kiwifruit Growers are aggrieved at losing their Court of Appeal case in a decision released today and following an appeal a year ago seeking damages for Government negligence in permitting the PSA disease into the country.
The Court of Appeal decision today allowe the Crown’s appeal on the basis that the Crown had a statutory immunity that precluded liablity for the alleged negligent acts or omissions (the full Court of Appeal press release is here).
The Court said it would have found no duty of care to exist in the particular circumstances. While there was sufficient proximity for a duty of care to exist, policy factors, in particular indeterminacy, meant it would not be fair, just and reasonable to impose a duty of care in the circumstances.
The PSA outbreak in 2009 devasted the kiwifruit industry and the Kiwifruit Claim, financed by legal funder LPG Group, has said they will now appeal to the Supreme Court.
Kiwifruit Claim Chairman John Cameron said that growers are aggrieved by today’s Court of Appeal decision that finds the Government was responsible for the 2009 PSA outbreak but is not liable for the losses. He confirmed they will appeal the decision in the Supreme Court.
“The Court of Appeal held that MPI was negligent in allowing a high-risk shipment of pollen anthers infected with PSA from China into New Zealand. But they found the Government does not owe a duty of care to ordinary New Zealanders and can’t be held liable for its actions, simply because it’s the Government,” said John Cameron, Kiwifruit Claim Chairman.
“The decision by the Court of Appeal relied upon an interpretation of the Crown Proceedings Act that effectively means the Government can’t be held to account for any wrongdoing.
“We believe this interpretation is wrong. It is both logical and reasonable that the Government should be held responsible for its actions, and those of its employees, where it is clear that significant harm and losses have resulted from their negligence. This is no different to the law that allows us to hold local councils and private business to account for their negligence,” said Mr Cameron.
“While our legal team need to analyse this latest decision, this is far from over. We will appeal this decision to the Supreme Court,” said Mr Cameron. “We would like to acknowledge the hard work from our legal team and the financial support provided by litigation funders, LPF Group, who have enabled this case to proceed this far.”
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