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Supreme Court insists on more detail in class action claim

Flood victims heard from class action lawyers Maurice Blackburn at a public meeting held at the Ipswich Showgrounds.
Flood victims heard from class action lawyers Maurice Blackburn at a public meeting held at the Ipswich Showgrounds. David Nielsen

A WAR of words erupted yesterday between Seqwater and lawyers for flood victims as the New South Wales Supreme Court ruled that the case go to trial on July 18, 2016.

Justice Peter Garling ruled on an application from Seqwater and SunWater to have the claim struck out.

In his judgement, Justice Garling sets out a timetable for the exchange of expert reports on dam operations and hydrology, the delivery of an amended statement of the claim detailing appropriate dam levels during the periods of flooding and the provision by the defendants of relevant documents during the flood event.

Following the judgement, Seqwater Chief Executive Officer Peter Dennis said Justice Garling identified "a series of legal deficiencies in the way that the case was pleaded, ordering the entire claim to be struck out".

"It is pleasing and important that the Court has sought to require Maurice Blackburn to clearly articulate its case," Mr Dennis said.

"This is a positive result early in the Court process."

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers principal Damian Scattini said Mr Dennis' comments were "completely misleading".

"It would be nice to think that Seqwater was as quick in responding to looming flood events as it is to issuing misleading press releases," Mr Scattini said.

"Their application is designed to delay and make life as difficult as possible, but we signed up to that. They've got a perfect right to do that.

"What is irritating is when they put out misleading releases ... to worry people unneccessarily.

"The case is going ahead. We've got a date for trial."

Mr Scattini downplayed speculation of an out of court settlement.

"If you ever litigate with the expectation that it is going to settle and you won't have to go to trial you are really taking a knife to a gunfight," he said.

"We've got a trial date to work towards and that's light at the end of the tunnel for (Ipswich flood victims)."

Mr Dennis said Seqwater remained acutely aware of the impact of the January 2011 flood event and the devastation caused.

"Seqwater is confident its management of the event will continue to be shown to have significantly reduced the impact of the flood as the matter progresses through the Court."

- Brian Bennion

Topics:  2011 floods, class action, nsw supreme court




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