Tuesday 3rd May 2011 2 Comments
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Produce distributor Turners and Growers has sought a postponement of its continuing legal action against kiwifruit marketer Zespri.
It was scheduled to continue its campaign against the grower-controlled company with a five-week trial starting in the High Court in Auckland tomorrow.
But Turners and Growers said late today that the case had been postponed, due to "unforseen personal circumstances".
Zespri plans to go ahead with a reception at Parliament tomorrow, staged by Tauranga MP Simon Bridges, designed to thank politicians and officials for their support since the industry was deregulated in 1999. Prime Minister John Key is expected to speak, and Zespri will outline its growth strategy through to 2025.
Turners and Growers has claimed that Zespri breached the Commerce Act by trying to preserve its monopoly after deregulation by tying producers into exclusive contracts, trying to control kiwifruit exports to Australia in 2008/09, and trying to take control of new kiwifruit cultivars.
Turners and Growers would not elaborate on why the trial had been delayed, but said a teleconference would be held tomorrow to set a new start date.
The company last year unsuccessfully challenged regulations underpinning Zespri's monopoly on NZ kiwifruit exports outside Australasia.
In that case, the High Court found that the Kiwifruit Export Regulations 1999 were validly established 11 years ago and that Kiwifruit New Zealand, the industry regulator, had exclusive jurisdiction to consider complaints under those regulations.
Turners and Growers is appealing that decision and has said it did not affect the case that was due to start tomorrow.
Under the Kiwifruit Export Regulations 1999, no one can export kiwifruit from New Zealand, other than for consumption in Australia, apart from Zespri.
Zespri has argued the industry and major political parties were in favour of retaining a single-desk seller regime, and that the Commerce Act and Bill of Rights Act did not help Turners and Growers' case.
Turners and Growers will appeal last year's decision at the Court of Appeal in November.
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