Kiwifruit Claim goes to court over Psa

The claim alleges that Biosecurity NZ was negligent in allowing Psa to be introduced into New Zealand.

The Kiwifruit Claim group’s statement of claim has been filed in the High Court in Wellington this afternoon.

The claim alleges that Biosecurity NZ was negligent in allowing the vine-killing disease, Psa, to be introduced into New Zealand: an incursion that cost New Zealand at least $885 million, according to Biosecurity NZ’s own independent study.

The chairman of Kiwifruit Claim, John Cameron, said it was about “official accountability and just redress for the destruction of so many kiwifruit growers’ livelihoods.”

Kiwifruit Claim was launched on Monday 29 September and is a class-action type case alleging negligence by the then Biosecurity NZ in allowing Psa into New Zealand.

Only growers and post-harvest operators that sign up to the action can benefit from any settlement or award of damages.

The claim’s media spokesman, Matthew Hooton, said that as of 5pm yesterday, 18% of gold-kiwifruit growers by volume had paid their one-off fee and completed the formal paperwork to sign up to the claim.   

An additional 9% of gold growers by volume have expressed interest.  Eight percent of green-kiwifruit growers by volume had also signed up, and a further 7% of growers by volume who had signed up were yet to be confirmed as gold or green growers.

The combined losses of those who have already signed up is estimated to be nearly $250 million.

Kiwifruit Claim’s legal team includes Alan Galbraith QC, Matthew Dunning QC and Parker & Associates.  

The litigation is being supported by litigation funder, LPF Litigation Funding Ltd, a 100% Kiwi-owned company, chaired by former Court of Appeal and Supreme Court judge Bill Wilson QC.

Plaintiffs will be represented by a committee consisting of John Cameron (chairman), Bob Burt and Grant Eynon.

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