|Tuesday 17 November 2015
EQC Action Group to file proceeding in High Court
A group of 150 Canterbury homeowners known as the EQC Action Group will file a legal proceeding in the High Court against the Earthquake Commission (EQC) today.
The group is seeking three sets of declarations from the Court around EQC’s interpretation of the EQC Act.
The proceeding follows EQC’s failure to respond substantively to the proposed declarations set out in a letter from the group’s lawyer Anthony Harper on 9 September 2015.
Anthony Harper partner Peter Woods says his clients have not been able to reach agreement with EQC and they consider they will not be able to do so without clarification of EQC’s obligations under the Act.
“The purpose of the declarations is to obtain that clarification,” Mr Woods says. “Our clients consider that the issues addressed by the declarations are widespread and common to a large number of EQC claimants.”
The declarations cover the extent of EQC’s liability when EQC elects to settle by payment, replacement or reinstatement. In addition they argue EQC’s liabilities are not met merely by compliance with MBIE guidance.
“Where the EQC Act states the definition of ‘replacement value’ is ‘when new’ and compliant with the building code EQC has chosen to consider only the pre-earthquake condition of a building,” Mr Woods says.
“Our clients want EQC to remove the ambiguity and inconsistency around repair standards.”
EQC Action Group member Craig Edwards says the group made every effort to engage EQC on the declarations to avoid this legal proceeding and to seek agreement on a co-operative declaratory process.
“We offered to sit down with EQC and discuss these issues, but that offer was never taken up,” Mr Edwards says.
In September, EQC wrote to the groups’ lawyer saying “there is in fact a large measure of agreement on the principles described” in the declarations sought.
“However, when pressed for specifics on what exactly EQC agreed on, no details were forthcoming,” Mr Edwards says.
“This set of declarations clarifying EQC’s obligations under the EQC Act will pave the way forward for many EQC claimants after more than five years of frustration and anxiety.”
The group is seeking a set of declarations including:
For further information, please contact:
Craig Edwards, Steering Committee Deputy Chair
About Anthony Harper
Anthony Harper is an award-winning national law firm and one of the largest in New Zealand. Peter Woods is the firm’s Head of Litigation Practice, based in the Christchurch office. For more information go to www.anthonyharper.co.nz