The Class Action against Advanta Seeds Pty Ltd, by farmers affected by Shattercane came before the Supreme Court of Queensland in Brisbane on 18 April 2018 when a number of applications were argued.
Her Honour, Justice Mullins, after hearing argument from both sides, ordered that the Plaintiff be given leave to add another lead plaintiff to the action. The total loss claimed on behalf of the two lead plaintiffs is in excess of $2m.
The matter is being fully funded by the litigation funder Balance Legal Capital LLP of London and is being run on a no win no fee basis for farmers.
Creevey Russell Lawyers’ Principal Dan Creevey, who is representing the growers, said the matter will now proceed on a timetable to hearing if it is not resolved before then between the parties.
Creevey Russell Lawyers is representing growers who purchased MR43 Elite sorghum seed anytime between 2010 and 2014 and have allegedly suffered a Shattercane infestation on their land due to the use of that seed. Advanta (formerly known as Pacific Seeds) denies the claim and has been ordered by the Judge to provide an amended defence by 24 May 2018 at which time the full details of its response to the allegations will be known. The case will decide the issue of liability for the sale of the seed and, if Advanta is liable, the damages suffered by the plaintiffs and group members.
The action was commenced in the Supreme Court of Queensland, but covers sorghum growers in Queensland and New South Wales.
The Plaintiffs’ case is that, when present in a crop of sorghum, Shattercane competes strongly with the planted sorghum as it has high fertility and results in a reduced yield. Once present on the land, it can spread vigorously, quickly infesting and overrunning the land. It is also hard and expensive to eradicate and during any eradication process it is difficult to grow other commercial crops on the land.