When might a government agency be compelled to accept liability for adverse effects that result from a mandatory obligation?
On 13 February 2021, long-standing litigation concerning the former New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry came to an end as the government body decided to settle. The litigation commenced in 2014 in relation to the kiwifruit vine disease Psa. Plaintiffs from the kiwifruit sector alleged that the government agency had negligently let Psa into the country in breach of its own protocols, introducing biosecurity hazards. The question now persists: at what point should government accept responsibility for losses caused by its imposition of mandatory obligations? This article explores these issues, with consideration of the mandatory folic acid fortification introduced in 2009 and an analysis of potential legal avenues for recourse.