The lawyer for Karl and Alison Dodds, who successfully won compensation from Southern Response, says others in a similar position should now sit tight and wait until Southern Response has got directions from the Court in the Ross Class Action.
The Dodds’ lawyer, Anthony Harper partner Peter Woods showed the Courts that Southern Response had misrepresented earthquake insurance entitlements and engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct.
“Southern Response has accepted these findings. There are more than 3,000 homeowners in the same positon as the Dodds and it is estimated the payout will total more than $300 million,” he says.
“Southern Response is ready to settle homeowners’ unpaid entitlements, but due to the Ross Class Action, it has decided that it needs to obtain directions from the Court, before it can do so. Therefore, it will postpone contacting homeowners directly until it has those directions.
“Following the Supreme Court ruling in November, every Southern Response policyholder
who had their Canterbury earthquake insurance claims settled by Southern Response up to 1 October 2014 is currently in the Class Action, under the opt-out ruling. They do not need to do anything more at this stage.
“We advise Southern Response policyholders not to engage or register with any lawyers, or claims consultants yet. They should now wait for Southern Response to proceed with the current process,” Mr Woods says.
Peter Woods is Anthony Harper’s senior litigation partner based in Christchurch. He has worked for a decade to ensure property owners are fairly compensated by the Earthquake Commission and insurers for damage caused in the Canterbury and Kaikoura earthquakes.
He also led a successful class action against the Earthquake Commission, which resulted in the Commission accepting it had not used the correct standard of repair.
“Anthony Harper supports the use of class actions and we consider they are necessary to ensure access to justice for as many people as possible. Now there is no doubt about Southern Response’s liability, it is appropriate for Southern Response to pay the Class Action’s costs and to proceed with settling all of the other claims with homeowners directly,” Mr Woods says.
Southern Response was set up by the Government when insurer AMI failed in 2012, to settle outstanding claims from policyholders.
In August 2019, the High Court found Southern Response had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct. Peter Woods of Anthony Harper, acting for Karl and Alison Dodds, showed Southern Response had misrepresented their insurance entitlements.
The insurer had produced two differing detailed repair/rebuild assessments, or DRAs, which scoped the costs of rebuilding or repairing their home. However Southern Response only showed the Dodds one DRA which did not include some costs they were entitled to under their insurance policy.
The Government appealed to the Court of Appeal, saying it needed legal clarity because of the thousands of other Southern Response claimants in a similar position. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal and upheld the damages award to the Dodds.
Southern Response now accepts the findings of the Court of Appeal
The Dodds’ case has opened the way to rectify thousands of Southern Response claims.
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