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Leaky Buildings Dispute Resolution Service a trap

Leaky Buildings Dispute Resolution Service a trap for homeowners, says United Future MP

“The Government’s new leaky buildings dispute resolution process is very dangerous for homeowners, ” United Future MP Murray Smith has told Parliament “and it is absolutely imperative that home owners get legal advice before using the new mediation and adjudication service, as well as advice while they are using it.”

“The new service is likely to engender the same false sense of protection by the Government that homeowners thought they had under the Building Act but which has now proved to have been totally unreliable.”

Mr Smith said that the new process would encourage homeowners to settle with builders without all the documentation that they needed in order to assess the strength of their claim and for a sum far less than the value of their repairs.

“The danger of doing that,” he said “was that settlement could take away their contractual rights to sue other people such as sub-tradesmen, architects and local authorities and also leave them in a position where, if they discovered substantially more problems a few months down the track, they would have no right to make another claim.

“Good lawyers,” Mr Smith said, “would be able to advise people;

· Whether the new disputes process was the best process for their circumstances or whether the courts, arbitration or the Disputes Tribunal was likely to achieve a better overall outcome,

· Who they should bring into the claim,

· The likely costs, time factors and prospects of success of each option,

· Whether a “class action” was a possibility and how to join that,

· The documentary information that was needed and the legal processes available to obtain that information from other parties, and

· Whether a settlement offer from another party ought to be accepted including investigating a party’s financial ability to pay and whether the homeowner needed to safeguard the right to make a future claim.”

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