NFU Disagrees with TB Table Valuation Judgment

UK - The Court of Appeal has handed down judgment today in the TB table values legal challenge, allowing Defra's appeal against the judgment of Lord Justice Stanley Burnton. The NFU has expressed its extreme disappointment with the outcome.
calendar icon 2 April 2009
clock icon 3 minute read
National Farmers Union

The NFU and its Legal Assistance Scheme had backed Devon dairy farmer David Partridge, the claimant in the case, who took Defra to judicial review over the level of compensation he received for a number of high value and high quality pedigree animals. They were identified as TB reactors and taken away for slaughter in March 2006.

The sums paid by Defra were based on the 'average value' tables the Government introduced in February 2006, but fell far short of the real value of the animals.

Speaking after today's ruling NFU Deputy President Meurig Raymond said: "We are extremely disappointed with today's decision. The NFU has always argued that the way Defra implemented table values was grossly unfair to producers of high value, high quality animals which are slaughtered for TB control purposes.

"The Judge in the High Court agreed with us, and he said that Defra's approach to the valuation of high value animals was unlawful. But the Court of Appeal has today overturned the High Court's decision.

"The Court of Appeal's decision is particularly disappointing given that TB continues to spread, and farmers cannot tackle the reservoir of TB in wildlife. The news is doubly disappointing given Defra's proposals on responsibility and cost sharing. TB is already costing the industry millions of pounds and we're losing tens of thousands of cattle each year.

"Defra pins all its hopes on a vaccine which, while being a tool in the box for TB eradication, will never do the job on its own. In the meantime our farming families wait in despair.

"The NFU's first view, looking at the judgment, is that we entirely disagree with the Court of Appeal's decision. We will be reviewing the judgment very carefully."

In the judgment handed down today, Lord Justice Lawrence Collins said "the question of compensation for cattle slaughtered because of TB is of great importance to farmers". He also said that Lord Justice Stanley Burnton had "delivered a comprehensive and careful judgment".

Nonetheless, Lord Justice Lawrence Collins found that there was no discrimination in Defra's approach to the valuation of high value animals. He said "I accept the Secretary of State's submission that the true value of any animal once it has tested positive for TB is the salvage value of its carcass". He also said that the true value of Mr Partridge's cattle "was not materially different from any other cattle which had been diagnosed with TB".

Mr Partridge, the claimant in the case, said "I am extremely disappointed by the Court of Appeal's decision. This comes as a bitter blow following the decision in the High Court, but I am very grateful for the assistance of the NFU and the LAS with taking the case this far. I will now be discussing with my legal team and the NFU what the legal options are".

The case has been fully backed by the NFU and its Legal Assistance Scheme. The Solicitors instructed by the claimant are Clarke Wilmott, one of the NFU's panel firms. Hugh Mercer QC has advised on the case, along with Jeremy Brier, and has represented the claimant in the High Court, and represented the claimant at the appeal hearing.

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