9 Oct 2014

Industry arguing over class action

7:34 am on 9 October 2014

The tit-for-tat squabble in the kiwifruit industry is continuing over the proposal by a group of growers and a post-harvest operator to sue the Government for losses caused by the vine disease Psa.

The group is signing up growers for a class action, claiming that the bacterial disease got into New Zealand in 2010 due to negligence by biosecurity officials.

Earlier this week, the national kiwifruit growers organisation, NZKGI, circulated a list of reasons why growers should hold off joining the action and seek independent legal advice first.

But the kiwifruit claim group has fired a salvo back, criticising the inaccuracy of what Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated is saying.

The grower heading the claim, John Cameron, said the suggestion that the case may not go ahead is wrong as a statement of claim will be filed in the High Court by 17 October.

Mr Cameron said the group's legal advisers also challenge the view that the claim does not have a good chance of success.

A claim that growers cannot withdraw from the action is also wrong, he said, and they can opt out at any stage. He said it is also not true that growers committed to the class action would need the consent of litigation funder LPF to sell their orchards.

Meanwhile, kiwifruit packers and cool store operators representing what they say is 80 percent of the post-harvest sector have written to Prime Minister John Key outlining their reasons for opposing the class action - putting them in the same camp as Kiwfruit Growers Incorporated and marketer Zespri.