13 Jul 2015

Kiwifruit body wins class action bid

8:02 pm on 13 July 2015

A body seeking compensation for damage caused by the kiwifruit vine disease Psa has been granted permission by the High Court at Wellington to pursue its class action.

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Photo: 123RF

The Kiwifruit Claim represents 72 growers and post-harvest operators who estimate Psa has cost them about $280 million, while the Government itself has calculated the damages the disease has caused to New Zealand at $885m.

The claim alleges Biosecurity New Zealand was negligent by allowing Psa into the country.

Spokesperson Matthew Hooton said more growers were able to sign up to the action if they did so by 9 October.

"If growers feel that they have lost money as a result of Psa in net terms, they've got an opportunity to sign up and be part of this claim. It'll only cost them $500. For large orchards it's $1500.

"If the claim is not successful then growers can't be charged any more.

"The court has ruled that LPF, the litigation funder, must put security aside for costs if the claim is unsuccessful.

"What that means is that after a grower has paid their $500, if the Kiwifruit Claim fails and even if in the end the courts say the Kiwifruit Claim has to pay costs to the Crown, there is no way that a grower can ever have to pay more than their initial $500."

The national kiwifruit growers body, New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated, has previously stated its opposition to the Kiwifruit claim, saying it could ruin the industry's relationship with the Government.

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