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High Court Terminates Class Action Against Southern Response


A High Court Judgment delivered by the Hon Justice Osborne yesterday (16 December) terminates the Ross Class Action ("RCA") against Southern Response Earthquake Services Limited. 

This removes the last hurdle for homeowners to recover their compensation from Southern Response, and means the Ross Class Action (RCA) has ended.

The Ross Class Action lawyers’ and funders' claim for fees from everyone eligible for compensation, even those who opted out of the RCA, has been dropped.

For homeowners, this means they no longer need to opt-out of the RCA, and they have more time to claim their compensation.

Peter Woods, partner at Anthony Harper represented Karl and Ali Dodds in the landmark case where both the High Court and Court of Appeal determined Southern Response had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct by withholding information when cash-settling their earthquake insurance claim. As a result, Southern Response accepted that it was liable to pay approximately 3000 homeowners a total of $300m compensation.

Woods says the Judgment is great news for the 2700 homeowners who had not signed up for the RCA. 

“The RCA's lawyers and funder had claimed these homeowners, who had not signed up to the RCA, should still pay 15 per cent of their compensation ($15,000 on average) to them. That claim was being appealed by the RCA and there would have been long delays as the appeal went through the Courts.

“This Judgment stops the appeals, and there is now no doubt that homeowners have no liability to the RCA's lawyers and litigation funder,” Woods says.

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Anthony Harper has so far represented more than 300 homeowners and compensation recovered to date ranges from $65,000 to $425,000.

Anthony Harper was the first law firm offering to represent homeowners for a fixed fee. 
Woods says he feels it is very important that homeowners know exactly what the cost will be ($875 net, after Southern Response's contribution), and to make it clear that paying anyone based on a percentage of their compensation is unjustified".

Woods urges those homeowners who cash settled their claims with AMI or Southern Response, before 1 October 2014, to register for their compensation. 

"These homeowners did not get their full entitlement when they cash settled their claims. They may have been very seriously prejudiced at the time and they are entitled to be compensated for that wrong,” Woods says.

Anthony Harper has set up a process to manage claims from registration to payment by Southern Response. They will advise on the right to claim outside the compensation package, calculate what is owed under the compensation package, and check Southern Response's calculations. They will also advise on Southern Response’s requirement to sign a new Settlement Agreement and on the terms of the Agreement.

A dedicated website has been set up for homeowners to register for compensation:
www.southernresponsepayment.co.nz

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