Managing legitimate expectations

Until 2003, the Farm Implement Act protected farmers who consigned equipment for sale. Changes to the Act removed the protection, but that was not understood by a Farm Implement Inspector who worked for the Farmers’ Advocate Office

Based on his previous experience and his understanding of the changes to the legislation, the inspector assumed consigned equipment was still covered.  The complainant stated he was informed his consigned equipment was covered and he made a business decision not to remove this equipment from a dealer, even when he suspected the dealer might be experiencing financial problems. 

The dealer went bankrupt, and it was only when a hearing was held before the Farm Implement Board that it was clear to all that consigned equipment was not covered and the farmers with consigned equipment were not protected. 

As a result of the Ombudsman’s findings, the Farmer’s Advocate agreed to seek legal advice to ensure his staff understands future changes to the legislation.  The Ombudsman closed the file without insisting on an apology.  The findings and recommendations did not result in compensation to the farmer, because the Ombudsman cannot recommend a remedy beyond the provisions of legislation.