An epic court battle between Kojunup farmers Steve Marsh and Michael Baxter has continued in the Supreme Court of Western Australia. Organic farmer, Steve Marsh sued Michael Baxter his friend and farming neighbour on the basis that his organic crop had been contaminated by a genetically modified seed crop. Mr Marsh’s organic certification was withdrawn after the GM seeds were found in his crop.
After a lengthy Supreme Court trial in 2014 Mr Marsh’s claim against Mr Baxter failed.
The matter has been subject to an appeal in the Supreme Court which is continuing.
It has emerged that Mr Marsh’s costs are being, at least partially, paid by representative Organic Associations and Mr Baxter’s legal costs are being met by GM Seed Company Monsanto.
The issue of hazards such as fire or water escaping from one property and damaging a neighbouring property has been the subject of many decisions in the common law for hundreds of years. This field of law has been known as nuisance.
For example, as a result of poor maintenance, a pipe may burst in a house and flood the neighbour’s property. The neighbour may have an action in nuisance for the damage suffered.
The case between Mr Marsh and Mr Baxter is unique and has attracted worldwide attention.
The result of the appeal may not be known for several months.