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Weathertight Homes Resolution Service

Weathertight Homes Resolution Service

Homeowners affected by leaky building syndrome will receive a free independent assessment of their claim through the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service the government is setting up, Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen announced today.

“Fees will only be charged at the point the person enters actual mediation or adjudication, and will be kept deliberately modest.

“The fee for mediation will be $200 and for adjudication, $400. Persons moving from mediation to adjudication will only have to pay the $200 difference,” Dr Cullen said.

Registration forms can be obtained through the http:// website or by calling the toll free 0800-116-926 line between 8.30am and 7pm Monday to Friday.

“We want people to register because the data collected through these sources will help us to gauge the extent of the problem. The service will be required to that the identities of those registering and of their property will be treated with utmost confidentiality.

“Applicants meeting the service’s eligibility criteria, will have their claims independently assessed and will be encouraged to go before an expert mediator.

“They will receive a copy of the assessor’s report whether they decide to seek redress within the service or through alternative means.

“The mediation option is entirely voluntary . If one of the parties refuses to participate or if mediation breaks down, recourse can be made to an adjudication procedure.

“This will be based on the highly successful Employment Relations Act model and will have the same scope as a court but will be a quicker, cheaper and less formal forum for determining liability.

“People with claims now before the courts will be able to apply to have them transferred to this system or they can be transferred on the initiative of the presiding judge. Similarly, adjudicators will have the power to transfer a case to the courts if is particularly complex.

“Mediation proceedings will be confidential. Outcomes of adjudications will be publicly available.

Mediated agreements and adjudication orders will be enforceable and may include costs,” Dr Cullen said.

“Officials have estimated the cost of running these services to the end of 2004 at between $15 million and $25 million. But no decision has been made to disestablish them at that time. Instead the government is planning to make ongoing provision for them through the current review of the Building Act.

“The service will be legislated for through a Supplementary Order Paper to the Construction Contracts Bill now before the House. Other political parties will be consulted in advance and the SOP will be posted on the weathertightness website next Monday to give the public an opportunity for feedback.

“We would hope to have the legislation passed before the end of this month and the first mediations underway by Christmas.”

The government is also working with the Building Industry Authority on its responses to the Hunn report and is examining future regulatory changes, including mandatory registration for builders.

“That work is still progressing. Announcements will be made as and when progress permits,” Dr Cullen said.

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