The long-running kiwifruit class action claim against the government over the PSA outbreak has cost the taxpayer over $3 million so far, according to an NBR report following an Official Information Act claim.
This accords with what we have previously reported on the costs of mounting the defence, headed by QC Jack Hodder together with former Crown Counsel and now Simpson Grierson partner Sally McKechnie, who joined the firm from Crown Law, where she had worked for four years in their Legal Risk division.
The report indicates that the Crown has spent $267,000 on expert witnesses and litigation ‘support costs’ of $67,000.
A further $381,000 has been spent on fees to Mary Scholtens QC, Jack Hodder and Rachael Schmidt-McCleave, while $33,500 was paid to Simpson Grierson for Ms McKechnie’s services, who remains on the case.
A further $840,000 has been budgeted for Simpson Grierson fees for Ms McKechnie’s involvement as well as any support services required from the firm, plus $300,000 for Queens’ Counsel.
The claimants’ say their costs will be about the same. Lead lawyer is Davey Salmon.
Why Crown Law Aren’t Handling the Case
With one of the largest potential damages awards ever against the government, the question as to why Crown Law are not handling the case can be raised. Questions as to whether there are sufficiently experienced senior counsel in Crown Law, or whether it is some budgetary constraint within the department were raised with the office.
Crown Law told LawFuel that “a number of experienced lawyers from Crown Law and the Ministry of Primary Industries” are assisting the able duo in Court.
But the question remains: why would there not be a senior Crown Counsel there?
With massive legal costs and an equally large legal risk, the issue is one that might have required the placement of a senior figure from Crown Law at the court during the 12-13 week hearing.