Friday 24 March 2017

Farmer wins case over seized cattle

Tim Healy

A well-known farmer has got €304,000 in damages in the High Court over the failure of the Department of Agriculture to return 233 cattle seized from in a dispute over their welfare.

John Hanrahan had sued the Agriculture Minister over the seizure of 355 cattle and the sale of 233 of them.

The department seized the cattle from the dairy herd belonging to Mr Hanrahan at his farm at Ballcurkeen, Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary, over two days on March 15 and 16, 2006. The High Court later found welfare issues justified the seizure at that time.

An agreement was reached between Mr Hanrahan and the department on April 11, 2006, under which a number of cattle would be returned to Mr Hanrahan's farm so as to bring the total number of animals up to a maximum 328 livestock units.

The department later accused Mr Hanrahan of failing to comply with the agreement and said the minister intended to sell some animals.

In his judgment on proceedings by Mr Hanrahan in June 2009, Mr Justice Bryan McMahon found the minister had breached the April 2006 agreement in failing to deliver the 223 cattle back and by selling them.

Yesterday, the judge ruled the court's task now -- four-and-a-half years after the breach of contract -- was to compensate Mr Hanrahan for the failure to return the cattle on May 5, 2006.

Mr Hanrahan was also to be compensated for the losses incurred because of the delay involved in determining the dispute over the minister's liability in the matter.

After allowing for several matters, the judge put a current value of €141,230 on the 223 animals.

He awarded a further €145,000 for loss of income arising from the fact that the animals were not returned, less €18,000 for monies Mr Hanrahan had received for letting out his milk quota from 2006.

He also awarded €25,000 for stress, upset and inconvenience to Mr Hanrahan arising from the department's breach of agreement. Further smaller sums awarded brought the total to €304,320.

Irish Independent

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