J.D. Irving challenge to southern N.B. woodlot groups heads to trial
In dispute are powers of the SNB Forest Products Marketing Board
J.D. Irving's dispute with two southern New Brunswick woodlot groups will go to trial, a judge in Saint John has decided.
Justice William Grant dismissed arguments by SNB Forest Products Marketing Board and its sister group, the SNB Wood Cooperative, that JDI lacked standing in the case and that the application was an abuse of the court process.
JDI wants a contract between the two groups representing southern New Brunswick woodlot owners declared unlawful by the Court of Queen's Bench. The forestry company says the marketing board has unlawfully delegated its powers to the co-operative.
Grant found there was enough disagreement over the facts to warrant a trial.
"Clearly there are disputes of fact in this case," the judge said.
At the root of the case is a January 2016 order from the marketing board that attempts to assert its authority under the New Brunswick's Natural Products Act over sales from private woodlots within its territory.
The order declared that wood from private woodlots can only be sold to the marketing board, and wood purchasers can only buy from the board.
JDI stopped buying wood from SNB in 2012 and has been bypassing the board to make deals directly with wood brokers and woodlot owners within the board's designated boundaries. The marketing board does not control the terms or the price.
More from woodlots
Earlier this month, JDI placed a half-page ad in the Telegraph-Journal newspaper claiming it is on track to purchase more wood from private woodlots than ever before.
Another company, AV Group, with mills in Nackawic and Atholville, has applied to be an intervener in the case.
In the meantime, a related appeal by JDI to the New Brunswick Forest Products Commission is scheduled to be heard March 14 and 15.
The company is challenging the validity of the SNB Marketing Board order.
Commission chair Brian Mosher told CBC News on Tuesday that the two-day hearing will likely take place in private.
Commission hearings are, by default, open but can be closed if members agree. Whether the JDI hearing will be open or closed will be decided at a meeting Wednesday.