The High Court case between the Namibian Brahman Breeders’ Society (NBBS), nine other defendants, and the plaintiff Danie Botes has been settled out of court. The case dealt with the deregistration of the bull, Lared Shepard, from the database of the NBBS as a stud animal in 2015 due to Botes’ failure to provide the required proof of the animal’s correct sire. Shepard was therefore stripped of its title as the Southern African Breedplan Bull of the Year.

Context of the case

In 2011, Botes first registered Shepard with the Namibian Stud Breeders Association (NSBA). Smoke was reflected as Shepard’s sire. This incorrect registration detail remained unchanged for years, because Botes did not accept DNA test results showing that Smoke could not be the sire of Shepard and instead relied on the advice of his farm workers regarding the identity of Shepard’s sire.

In 2014, Botes entered the Breedplan competition with Smoke as the sire of Shepard. He knew the estimated breeding values (EBVs) used in the scoring of the competition would be based on the lineage of Shepard. Due to the information provided on the show entry form, the show catalogue reflected Smoke as the sire. After the show entries had closed, he changed Shepard’s sire with the NSBA to reflect another sire (DB 09-0180), which was also the incorrect sire.

According to the manager of the NSBA, Botes knew, by the end of August, that the scoring would be done on the information given on the show entry form (in which Smoke was reflected as the sire). Shepard was therefore scored on the basis that Smoke (a previous winner of the award) was his sire. Despite being aware of this, Botes received the award at the presentation ceremony without drawing anyone’s attention to the huge mistake. Subsequent analysis undertaken, as agreed upon by the NSBA, demonstrated that neither of the aforementioned bulls was Shepard’s sire.

Details about the lawsuit

It was because of the role the society played in investigating this, that Botes sued. He instituted action against the NBBS for payment of the sum of N$3 500 000 for reputational and other damages claimed to have been suffered for defamation, as well as the wrongful and malicious failure of the society to recognise registration of the bull Shepard and the withdrawal of its title as the Southern African Breedplan Bull of the Year. He also demanded the reinstatement of the bull and its progeny on the NBBS database.

The NBBS denied all claims, maintaining that the bull had incorrectly received the award. To the NBBS the most important issue in the action was Botes’ claim for damages. The society was told that, in terms of the Rules of the Court, the parties had to try and settle the disputes between them.

Discussions followed and the settlement agreement was concluded. Botes abandoned his claims for damages, which included those for defamation. In turn the society undertook to re-register Shepard and his progeny with its correct sire DB 08-0043. Each side undertook to pay their own costs.

The NBBS decided to agree to the re-registration of the bull and its progeny with its correct sire by considering the interests of the members of the society, the reputation of the breed, the substantial costs associated with a long trial involving experts and, importantly, Botes’ decision to abandon what represented the biggest part of the case. The implication is that Shepard remains stripped of its title and that the society has been vindicated in this. – Press release, Namibian Brahman Breeders’ Society