Equine flu test case launched in court

August 19, 2009

A landmark test case seeking compensation for losses suffered due to Australia's 2007 equine influenza outbreak has been lodged in the Supreme Court of Queensland.

The claim has been brought by the Gold Coast legal firm Attwood Marshall Lawyers on behalf of Wattle Brae Stud at Nobby, on Queensland's Darling Downs.

Wattle Brae argues it has lost more than $A3 million in revenue as a result of equine flu's introduction to Australia.

The action has been brought against the Commonwealth of Australia "as the representative of all government instrumentalities associated with introduction and spread of the equine influenza virus".

Attwood Marshall partner Jeff Garrett said he expected to lodge more than 600 claims if the test case proved successful.

Compensation could extend to more than $A60 million, he said.

"There are many people waiting in the wings for the outcome of this case," he said.

The law firm said it chose Wattle Brae Stud as the test case because it is a typical example of a thoroughbred stud that has been affected by the outbreak. The stud's horses had actually contracted equine flu.

The statement of claim has been served on the lawyers acting for the federal government. They have 28 days to file a defence in relation to the claim.

The firm said it expected that there will be various applications made over the course of the next 6 to 12 months, "which no doubt will sort out some of the more complicated legal issues involved".