Key Points:

The Court of Appeal has decided former King Country farming couple Margaret and Keith Berryman will have their claim of misfeasance against the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) heard in court.

To prove misfeasance, it must be shown someone in public office acted maliciously in a manner likely to cause harm or injury to the person.

The Berrymans have made the claim over the 1994 bridge collapse on their property, which claimed the life of beekeeper Kenneth Richards.

The bridge was built by the army.

In 1997, Taumarunui coroner Tim Scott found responsibility "must largely lie" with the Berrymans, for failing to maintain the bridge.

However, that finding was quashed by High Court Justice Jill Mallon in May.

She found the coroner was not given an internal army report which found flaws in the construction and design of the bridge.

The decision was heralded as a partial victory for the couple although they were unsuccessful on a number of other fronts - including their bid for a judicial review of the Solicitor-General's decision not to order a new inquest.

In a separate legal proceeding, the Berrymans have sought damages through a misfeasance claim.

A High Court judge last year ruled the claim should go ahead.

In June, the Appeal Court heard an appeal from the defence force arguing the Berrymans' misfeasance claim cannot succeed and should not go to a full hearing.

New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) lawyer Hamish Hancock argued the Berrymans' claim should be struck out because their allegations of misfeasance "cannot possibly succeed".

Mr Hancock said the Berrymans had failed to provide "intelligible particulars" of damages or economic loss.

"...none of their alleged losses have a sufficient logical or causal link to the NZDF's alleged wrongdoing," he said.

But today the Appeal Court said that on one narrow point the army had not shown that the Berryman's claim could not succeed and therefore it refused to enter summary judgment.

"The effect of this decision is that the entirety of the Berryman's claim remains before the High Court."

- NZPA