• Bert Quin

High Court Judgement of 31 July 2020 a big win for science and the environment

Updated: Aug 23, 2020

The complex judgement comes down to 6 key points:

  1. Ballance sought a permanent injunction preventing Quinfert Algerian RPR being described as an RPR in advertising. It failed in this objective. To quote from the judgement: "Apart from the [Fertmark] citsol test, the Algerian RPR meets the other tests for RPR." And further, the Judge said: "The Court should not shut out competition in this area provided the terms of the judgement cab properly inform the relevant market participants."

  2. The Court's finding that Quinfert Algerian RPR is an RPR, and should be able to be advertised as such, was based to a degree on expert evidence from Dr Rajan, which was accepted unopposed.The Judge summarised the position in the judgement as follows: "There are a number of aspects of the advertising {by Quin Environmentals] that Ballance complains about which are, however, strictly correct. The suggestion that it has better or equal agronomic performance than North Carolina RPR is correct on theevidence before the Court. The representation that, like all RPRs, it has a short crystal a-axis is, on the evidence, also correct. The statement it has been rigorously assessed by the IFDC as a highly reactive phosphate rock is also supportable on the evidence."

  3. The Court found that Quinfert Algerian RPR (from shipments imported in 2018) did not meet the Fertmark Code meaning of RPR (the 30-min citsol test), and that a qualifier must be stated in advertising - as it actually has been since April 2019. The Judge said: "a suitably phrased qualification can meet the reasonable interests of both parties and the relevant consumers in this case.."

  4. This qualifier is not necessary for Quinfert's Algerian RPR 'V2', from which some of the coarser dolomite has been deliberately removed to ensure it reaches the Fertmark Code.

  5. The Court commented in passing that while the Fertmark citsol test is currently the approved test used by Fertmark, and the only one in official use (albeit voluntary) in NZ, it appears that: "despite [Ballance's] Mr Catto's evidence, it appears that the FQC [Fertmark Quality Council] is moving towards adopting the Watkinson Dissolution as a test for RPR".

  6. The Court observed, again in passing, that: "It is also correct that both the requirements for 30% P [solubility in the Fertmark citsol test] and particularly the 30-minute time limit are arbitrary", and: "The {Ballance} Hi P RPR example does however show the rather arbitrary nature of the reliance on the citsol test for determining what is RPR in New Zealand".

So, a victory for science and the environment, but a hugely exoensive and exhausting one for me personally.

Following the High Court's vindication that Quinfert Algerian RPR is indeed an RPR and can be advertised as such (with the proviso specified by the Court which applies only to V1 not V2), I can now get on and seek investment in the company to increase the importation of this more economical and essentially non-polluting form of phosphate. It requires no chemical processing at all to be used as a highly effective source of phosphate. Sulphur and other nutrients, and trace elements, can simply be mixed with it to meet the requirements of individual farms.

[Approved for release by Dr B. F. Quin at 8.00 am on Monday 3rd August 2020}