A Northland kiwifruit grower and his company have taken an irrigation company and its manager to court for allegedly failing to supply water, resulting in reduced production and loss of income.
Farrand Orchards and its owners Kerry and Kristin Farrand are alleging breach of contract by Kerikeri Irrigation Company and are claiming costs of $27,209 plus a further $355,048 to compensate for reduced production.
In addition, they sued the irrigation company's manager Anthony Corcoran for allegedly inducing breach of contract, claiming he was motivated by malice and showed contempt for their rights.
The Farrands were seeking $144,409 in compensation from Corcoran, but their claim against him has been dismissed.
In their reply to allegation of breach of contract, Kerikeri Irrigation Company and Corcoran said the Farrands' claims were untenable and applied to have them struck out and for the High Court to grant judgment in their favour.
Associate Judge Roger Bell dismissed the application and ruled the Farrands' claim would continue and ordered them to file an amended statement of claim as procedural aspects needed to be tidied up.
The case concerned the supply of water on two lots of the Farrands' kiwifruit orchard on Kapiro Rd, Kerikeri, separated by a lane owned by neighbours who each own 3.5m wide strips.
The Farrands irrigated Lot 1 through pipes that ran under Pukeko Lane without a registered water easement, although they had an understanding with the owners of the land that they could do so.
One of the land owners later told Kerry Farrand he could obtain a right to convey water across the strip if he paid $95,000 which forced him to install a water meter on another strip.
However, the irrigation company refused to install that water meter until he obtained a registered easement.
The matter became serious because there was a severe drought from October 2016 to February 2017 and Farrand had to ferry water to Lot 1 as kiwifruit vines started withering and dying.
Kerikeri Irrigation Company installed a water meter in January 2017 on another strip for another neighbour who had a similar problem as the Farrands and who was the chairman of the irrigation company.
Farrand claimed it was hypocritical of the company to treat him differently.
The irrigation company argued that under the terms of the agreement, it was required to supply water only as far as the water meter in the Farrands' orchard was, and it did.
Getting the water over Pukeko Lane to Lot 1 was not its problem, it said.
Associate judge Bell said the Farrands have an arguable claim on aspects of the case, including that the company delayed in installing the water meter but those were matters for trial.
He said the Farrands should give particulars in their amended statement of claim as to how they calculated their losses.