04/16/2013 3:09PM

Australian court allows appeal on artificial insemination ruling


An Australian court case regarding the use of artificial insemination in Thoroughbred breeding has been revived, following the appeal of a December decision against the practice in regards to the breed’s registry.

The ruling was appealed by Bruce McHugh, a former chairman of the Sydney Turf Club, who initially filed suit against the Australian Turf Club in 2011 claiming that the prohibition of artificial insemination was an illegal trade restraint for his planned breeding operation and that it violated the country’s competition and consumer act. Additionally, he said that live-cover breeding was dangerous and expensive, preventing him from getting into the business.

After a four-month trial and a year of deliberation, the ban was upheld on December 19 by Federal Court Justice Alan Robertson. Had it been allowed, Australia would have become the first jurisdiction to allow artificial insemination in its Thoroughbred racing and breeding industries. Other flat-racing breeds—Quarter Horses and Arabians—already allow artificial insemination.

The appeal was filed six weeks after the originally posted January 31 deadline, but McHugh’s attorney argued that he was not given proper time to file the appeal due to a number of factors, including the Christmas and summer holidays and review of the 369-page judgment. As reported by Bloomberg News, Federal Court Justice Peter Jacobson said Tuesday that the delay was not enough deny the appeal, given that the case was “of significance to the Thoroughbred industry.”

In his initial ruling, Robertson said that the plaintiff had to show that the trade restraint was unreasonable when it was established for it to be illegal. However, when the rule was imposed several decades ago, it was reasonable at the time, the judge deduced. When arguing for an appeal, McHugh’s attorney said that Robertson’s ruling did not consider advances in technology, including DNA testing, and also argued that restraint of trade cannot be indefinite.