A court in Zimbabwe has ruled that 54 white farmers whose land had been seized should be allowed to continue farming.

High Court Judge Benjamin Paradza's ruling was critical of the administration of Zimbabwe's land-reform program. He told 54 farmers that the government had not obeyed its own laws that set out procedures for land seizures.

The judge said bondholders had not been informed that the properties were to be nationalized. He said the country's Administrative Court, which rules on seizures of farms, had not been informed within 30 days of the seizure notices being served on the farmers.

He also said government descriptions of some of the farms in question were not accurate.

A pressure group, Justice for Agriculture, which has backed many of the recent court challenges, is delighted. A spokeswoman, Jenni Williams, said the 54 farmers could return to their farms and produce food and earn foreign currency for Zimbabwe.

But based on recent experience, that may be difficult. Many farmers have court orders allowing them to continue farming, but police have failed to implement the court rulings.

Last week, Zimbabwe's Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa urged new black settlers to ignore court challenges and move onto targeted farms to begin preparations ahead of the rainy season.