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Sheep farmer wins appeal against State over foot and mouth compensation

Brendan Rafferty lost almost 700 sheep in 2001.

A SHEEP FARMER has won an appeal against the State over the amount of compensation he received after his sheep were culled following the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001.

Brendan Rafferty had appealed a decision made by the High Court on 31 October 2008.

When an outbreak of foot and mouth disease was confirmed on the Cooley Peninsula in County Louth on 28 February 2001, the area was designated an exclusion zone. A cull of sheep on the peninsula began on 23 March.

He sued the Department of Agriculture and Attorney General over the amount of compensation he received for losses resulting from a cull of his sheep, deemed necessary under section 17 of the Diseases of Animals Act 1966.

Rafferty lost 695 ewes and received a total of IR£145,244 (€184,000) in compensation. He accepted the sheep cull was necessary in the public interest.

Rafferty’s sheep, which were not infected, were killed to prevent the spread of the disease.  According to court documents, he thought the compensation he recevied “fell far short of the actual loss and damages sustained”.

The farmer claimed that prior to 2001 he had a modern sheep farm, with newly-built sheep housing. He was rapidly expanding the farm and had extended his ewe numbers from 200 to 695 between the years 1998 and 2001.

‘Consequential loss’

Rafferty successfully argued that more than the market value of the sheep should have been given in compensation. At issue in this appeal was the interpretation of the term ‘compensation’ in the 1966 Act.

In the original ruling, the High Court held that nothing in the Act suggested that it was the intention of the legislature that compensation should include consequential loss.

However, the Supreme Court found that in this case the State is liable to pay compensation that includes “consequential loss to the appellant’s business”.

Another farmer, John Elmore, is currently in the process of appealing the same 2008 decision. The Supreme Court agreed that the decision in today’s case will govern that of Elmore’s. Elmore lost 199 sheep and received IR£29,495 (€37,400).

The court did not rule on how much extra compensation Rafferty will receive.

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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