A federal court ruling issued in Chicago yesterday paved the way for the resumption of the government's law-suit against the oil-rich Hunt family of Texas for allegedly illegal practices in trading soybeans.

U.S. District Court Judge Frank McGarr upheld the validity of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission's speculative limits on commodities, which are at issue in the Hunt case.

McGarr said the limits - which restrict an individual or a group of individuals trading together to holding no more than 3 million bushels of soybean futures contracts - are not arbitrary.

The CFTC filed suit against seven members of the Hunt family in late April in an attempt to break their hold on the soybean market. At one poin in April the family members held contracts worth 22 million bushels of soybeans, or about a third of the amount estimated to be available at the end of the current crop year in August.

The ruling, which came in the midst of a growing legal battle between the agency and the Hunts, means the evidentiary hearings on the CFTC's case against the family will resume shortly.

The agency is attempting to prove that the members traded in concert in a scheme to avoid the speculative limits. CFTC staff members estimate that the allegedly illegal profits made in this fashion by the family between January and April range between $30 and $100 million.