Terms of reference were released today for an independent report into whether a Northland stock and station agent should be paid compensation for a Commerce Commission decision made 24 years ago.
John Andrew Dickson, whose business went into liquidation in 1993, has petitioned Parliament three times requesting compensation for loss of profits as a result of alleged failures of the Commerce Commission, Examiner of Commercial Practices and the Secretary of Commerce to enforce conditions of the merger of Wrightson Ltd and Dalgety Ltd, which was cleared by the commission in 1986.
In response to his latest petition the Ombudsman conducted an inquiry at the request of Parliament's commerce committee.
This found no causal connection between the loss suffered by Mr Dickson and any failure by the commission. The committee agreed with this but found that unhelpful communication by the commission contributed to Mr Dickson's loss of opportunity to pursue legal action against Wrightson, and the Crown should accept moral responsibility for this.
It recommended the Government consider an ex gratia payment to Mr Dickson.
The Government said it would seek independent legal advice before deciding on a payment.
Today, Commerce Minister Simon Power released the terms of reference for the independent advice.
An independent report will consider whether the commission was required to provide helpful clarification about its analysis and views of the laws it was charged with administering, to communicate its views in relation to the enforceability of the conditions to Mr Dickson once that position had been established and, if so, whether the commission failed to meet those requirements and whether the failure was exceptional.
Mr Power said Mr Dickson's petition had a long and complex history.
"The select committee's report raises complex issues which I want to consider before making a final response."
It was important the matters were given careful consideration, Mr Power said.
The Government's final response was due by July 30.