Kiwifruit claim

Information on the High Court litigation.


Background to case

A group of kiwifruit growers and post-harvest operators are suing the Crown for what they allege is negligence in allowing the bacterial kiwifruit vine disease Psa-V into the country.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) does not accept the allegations and is defending the litigation. A statement of defence was filed in the High Court on 6 March 2015.

The Crown commenced its defence in the High Court on Monday 4 September 2017.

Evidence timetable confirmed

The Court has confirmed the timetable for the exchange of evidence prior to the hearing, which is scheduled to start on 7 August 2017. The timetable is:

  • 3 March 2017 – Plaintiffs to file and serve evidence.
  • 1 May 2017 – Defendant to file and serve evidence.
  • 16 June 2017 – Plaintiffs’ reply evidence to be filed and served.
  • 14 July 2017 – Contingent provision for a second round of reply evidence by the defendant, should such evidence be justified.

The plaintiffs filed a Reply to the Amended Statement of Defence on 7 October 2016.

Download the reply to the amended statement of defence [PDF, 281 KB]

Summary of defence case

The Act sets out requirements which MPI undertakes in the interests of the country as a whole but where no individual or group can especially claim damages if they suffer loss.

The Ministry acted appropriately in its treatment of Psa-V as a biosecurity threat and acted in accordance with its international obligations and with scientific knowledge available at the time.

MPI did not “let” Psa into the country by allowing pollen imports to New Zealand. Various studies are inconclusive as to exactly how the bacterium entered New Zealand.

There are other reasons MPI is not liable for the claim. MPI argues that there is a statutory immunity from civil proceedings in regard to actions taken under the Biosecurity Act, and that applies to this proceeding. Any liability on the Crown for losses as a result of a biosecurity incursion is covered by a statutory compensation scheme. In the case of Psa-V, a specific assistance scheme was offered after the outbreak in 2010, through which the Government made more than $25 million available to compensate growers. This was matched by a payment by industry, and the fund is administered by an industry-led organisation, Kiwifruit Vine Health.

Find out more

Information about how the kiwifruit industry has recovered from the Psa outbreak is on page 52 of MPI's Situation and Outlook for the Primary Industries 2015.

Who to contact

If you have questions about this legal action, email info@mpi.govt.nz

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