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New class action puts councils in the firing line

New class action puts councils in the firing line

Questions asked of building work worth billions

A planned new funded class action will be putting Councils in the firing line for leaky and failed buildings that they have been approved or inspected within the last 10 years. The action, which is intended to be funded by a UK-based litigation funder, means that owners can join the action without the fear of legal and expert fees and the risk of an uncertain outcome.

Auckland law firm Adina Thorn Lawyers has secured funding from a UK based litigation funder. She says the action aims at helping those owners who have found themselves saddled with council-approved work that now leaks or has failed in other ways.

Broadly anyone can register interest to join the action who has some involvement of Council within 10 years, or has “stopped the clock” by registering with the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service or is part of an existing claim.

“Our firm’s extensive work in the area of defective buildings has uncovered case after case of people, through no fault of his/her own, have found themselves financially compromised by poor quality design or workmanship and have good claims against Council. They just cannot pursue those claims because of legal and expert costs. This action removes that obstacle.

“We have come across owners and Body Corporates with major problems. Many have good claims. They just can’t afford to pursue them”.

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“Joining this action means you have access to a large legal and expert team without incurring any of the costs this would usually involve”.

Adina says the costs of the class action have been underwritten by a UK based litigation funder who will take a share of any damages secured after costs are reimbursed, which means that those joining the action will face no out of pocket expenses.

Building surveyor John Dalton says the issue of finding building work that is not up to the required standard is an everyday occurrence in his line of work, be that a matter of workmanship or non-compliant materials.

“Many owners are reluctant to get involved because they see the value of their property being discounted, but the reality is that these problems won’t fix themselves and will generally get worse over time.

“It’s a particularly tricky issue where buildings have multiple owners because people have different expectations, resources and views on how issues should be addressed and how they should be paid for. There are always the issues of who 2

should be held accountable for the problems and what it will cost to have them held legally liable?

“Clearly the scale of the problem runs to hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars with many property owners naturally asking what value really attaches to a council consent, which is something that takes good money and often considerable effort to secure.”

Anyone who interested in the action can register at www.adinathorn.co.nz – Council Class Action. Each application will be evaluated on its merits.

Facts on the action:

• The proposed action is against Councils (not only Auckland Council) who have carried out any inspections or certification within the last 10 years.

• If you have registered in the WHRS you may be eligible to join this action, even if the Council’s acts were before September 2007.

• People in current claims against Council, will be considered to join.

• The class action will be fully funded which means those joining it will face no out of pocket expenses.

• If the action is successful the funder will be reimbursed for the costs of taking the action plus a share of the damages awarded after all costs are met.

• Body corporates and commercial owners can join.

• There is no cost to register interest at www.adinathorn.co.nz.

• Adina Thorn Lawyers is currently undertaking a number of class actions including a $250 million funded class action against James Hardie Group companies for the alleged manufacture and marketing of faulty cladding materials and a $40 million plus funded class action against Carter Holt Harvey for the manufacture of Shadowclad cladding.


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