Data source
Date of text
28 May 1987
Seat of court
Original language


Type of text
National - higher court
Reference number
[1987] 2 NZLR 348
Court name
New Zealand Court of Appeal
Cooke, Mc Mullin, Somers, Casey

This case had implications for the use of pesticides and where such use might constitute actionable negligence. The case considered the liability of the Attorney General (and by extension the New Zealand Government) in negligence for the spraying of pesticides on a noxious plant bloom that resulted in the poisoning of the roses of a nearby greenhouse. This greenhouse was owned by Geothermal Produce New Zealand. The spraying work was conducted by contractors on the behalf of the New Zealand Government. It was held that the Attorney General was liable on four grounds: for negligence (having owed Geothermal Produce a duty of care), vicariously liable for the negligent actions of the contractor on the basis of insufficient governmental supervision, nuisance for spraying with such close proximity to the greenhouse, and liability under the Rylands v Fletcher principle. The amount awarded to Geothermal Produce was $667,000.

The Attorney General appealed this decision on the basis of their liability under negligence and on the quantum of damages. The first ground for appeal failed and the second ground only achieved a relatively small reduction in damages on an insignificant matter.


(Contribution:  Case provided by Friedrich Kuepper, Queensland University of Technology)