In 2011 the Federal Government made a decision to ban the live export trade of cattle to Indonesia. At this time Indonesia accounted for approximately 80% of Australia’s live cattle exports. A class action was commenced in 2014 and some 300 farmers and other businesses affected by the suspension sought compensation from the Commonwealth for lost income.
After 6 years and a deliberation period of 18 months the Federal Court ruled this week that the former Labor Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig (Hon) acted with ‘misfeasance and reckless disregard’ when trade was suspended and that the ban on exports was unlawful.
In a huge blow to the economic development of many local government areas, the details of the case indicate that affected persons and businesses felt the effects of the ban for more than 12 months after it was eventually lifted.
With the success of the case, the way may now be paved for more claims for compensation from the Commonwealth. This could extend to anyone along the supply chain including agents, trucking companies and musterers. It is understood that the Commonwealth could be facing claims of up to $600 million.
The decision may be appealed but commentators have suggested this is highly unlikely, given the high bar to culminate in a finding of misfeasance (the wrongful exercise of lawful authority) against the former Minister.
If you think you or business may have been affected by the bans Preston Law can help. Contact our Litigation Team today!