Today, the Canterbury Homeowners Class Action has been launched to provide Southern Response policyholders a choice in their battle for full compensation from Southern Response for their quake-damaged homes.
The new class action aims to ensure around 3,000 homeowners who were short-changed by Southern Response in the settlement of their claims before 1 October 2014, receive a greater proportion of any compensation paid by Southern Response.
The action will be led by a highly experienced legal team including leading barrister Davey Salmon, and the country’s largest litigation law firm, Meredith Connell, which has substantial experience running class action claims. The claim will be funded by New Zealand’s pre-eminent and homegrown litigation funder, LPF Group.
Meredith Connell partner Mark Davies said the Canterbury Homeowners Class Action would be conducted in a straightforward way for policyholders.
“The funding terms for the Canterbury Homeowners Class Action will be fair and transparent. An independent committee of plaintiffs will be formed to make sure that the interests of all plaintiffs are represented throughout the course of the claim.
“Until today, the main option available to these homeowners to obtain compensation was through the claim run by GCA Lawyers and funded by Australian based Claims Funding Australia Pty Ltd. The Canterbury Homeowners Class Action aims to provides choice to that claim.”
Phil Newland said LPF Group was supporting the class action because it believes policyholders have a very strong case and deserve to be fairly compensated.
“The recent Supreme Court ‘opt-out’ ruling means Southern Response policyholders could automatically and without their knowledge become part of the GCA Lawyers class action. The GCA Lawyers’ class action is unnecessarily costly to claimants – the Australian-based funder will charge up to 27.5% of any compensation and in addition to paying GCA Lawyers’ fees, if the claim succeeds claimants will also pay the legal team a success fee of up to $2,000 per policyholder; this could add up to $6 million across the 3,000 homeowners.
“In comparison, under the Canterbury Homeowners Class Action, no success fees will be payable to the lawyers and LPF will take a fee of 10%, up to a maximum of 15% for funding the action. This is only payable if the legal case is successful.
“In LPF’s view, a key issue with paying success fees to lawyers is the conflict of interest that arises when those lawyers, who are required to provide their clients with objective advice, are also being paid a fee based on success,” Mr Newland said. “The funding terms we are offering policyholders means they will get a bigger share of any favourable result in the proceeding,” said Mr Newland.
Policyholders will not be required to pay anything to be part of the Canterbury Homeowners Class Action and will face no costs at all if the claim is unsuccessful. As outlined at www.canterburyhomeownersclassaction.co.nz, the Canterbury Homeowners Class Action is for those who:
owned a house that was insured by Southern Response (previously AMI Insurance) under a Premier House Cover Policy or Premier Rental Property Policy (“Policy”),
made a Policy claim after their house suffered damage in the Canterbury earthquakes,
settled their insurance claim with Southern Response prior to October 2014, and Southern Response paid a sum of money in this settlement; and
received a settlement amount which was less than that to which the homeowner was legally entitled.
Eligible Southern Response policyholders who are interested in joining the Canterbury Homeowners Class Action can see the funding terms being offered and get more information at www.canterburyhomeownersclassaction.co.nz.
 LPF Group’s return will be calculated as a percentage of the resolution sum as follows: if a successful outcome is achieved and project costs do not exceed $2m and the litigation is resolved within 24 months i.e. before December 2022, the return to LPF Group will be 10%, otherwise the return will be calculated at 15%.