A Cumbrian artificial insemination centre has been ordered to pay £67,945 in damages to a prize winning farmer after it wrongly labelled the semen of a valuable Aberdeen-Angus bull.
Deveron Limited Edition
The mistake by Carlisle firm Lindsay’s AI meant that more than 1000 straws of semen from the bull, Deveron Limited Edition, were worthless because under EU regulations they could not be exported. Even the domestic market was unavailable because the straws also breached DEFRA regulations and so any resulting calves could not be registered with the Aberdeen-Angus Society.
In a trial held at Carlisle County Court on 11th and 12th June, 2008, Judge Peter Hughes QC heard that Aberdeenshire tenant farmer Hamish Sclater had agreed a valuable contract to sell semen from Deveron Limited Edition to the prestigious Irish Angus Cattle Society. Since this involved export, the semen could only be taken at sites specially licensed by DEFRA. Linsday’s AI, which is 270 miles from Mr and Mrs Sclater’s Denhead Farm near Turriff, was the closest site.
The labelling mistake was discovered in November 2005, by which time Deveron Limited Edition had died and the semen could not be replaced. Lindsay AI’s admitted negligence in December 2005.
In his judgment, Judge Peter Hughes QC said, “Deveron Limited Edition was therefore a limited edition in more ways than one…The semen collected by the Defendants was all there ever would be and the only means of breeding from him.”
Lindsay’s AI has been ordered to pay damages of £31,845 relating to the loss of
profit on the sale of 1,158 straws and £36,100 for the lost enhancement to the value of the herd.
Hamish Sclater said, “I am just a normal farmer trying to get on. I am still astonished that we had to go to court when liability was admitted two and a half years ago, but our losses are huge as has been proved by the Judgment. Lindsay’s AI did not carry liability insurance and have persisted in being obstructive. We have been lucky in the support we have had from our friends, family and others in the farming community.”
Deveron Limited Edition sired just one bull calf naturally which sold for £20,000. Like his sire, Jasper Eric won the prestigious Best Yearling award at the Black Beauty Bonanza. Another bull calf from the Sclaters’ herd was also bought this year by Scotland Rugby Union’s former captain David Sole for £14,000.
Stewart Fyfe from Burnetts Solicitors in Carlisle represented Mr and Mrs Sclater. He said, “This has been a very interesting case because it raised some tricky issues of foreseeability of loss in negligence and breach of contract claims. In the end, our judgment has been proved correct. Of course, getting Judgment doesn’t guarantee that Lindsay’s AI can afford to pay what’s due, but the Sclaters have certainly been vindicated for pursuing this claim.”
The Sclaters and their legal team now have 28 days to file submissions for interest and costs.
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