Southern Response appeal the Class Action's go-ahead

On Monday, Southern Response announced it had filed an appeal against Justice Gendall’s recent High Court decision to allow the Southern Response Class Action to proceed in the courts.

In making its announcement Southern Response denied using an overall strategy that seeks to minimise policyholders’ entitlement but obviously, lodging an appeal is motivated by a desire to delay the date when the existence and use of that strategy falls for examination by the courts.

Disingenuously Southern Response continues to assure the public that it’s committed to settling claims fairly and as quickly as possible but the evidence shows otherwise. Any law firm can instruct the relevant experts to assess a client’s damage, specify the correct remedial action, quantify the value of the claim, and expect to receive that expert advice in 2-3 months. Generally, such experts do their job once and do it correctly. In contrast Southern Response has to do most things, many times over.

The insurer issues Detailed Repair Assessments (DRA) on every claim which purport to set out the remedial work required. However, these DRAs are seldom correct on the first attempt. Therefore, most policyholders are subjected to 5-7 different costings and we have seen one case where 20 DRAs were issued by the insurer. Is this behaviour systematic neglect or is it systematic application of a strategy?

No doubt in due course the court will listen to the company’s explanations as to how it failed to attend to things ‘fairly’, ‘quickly’, or ‘efficiently’ at virtually all stages of any given claims process and then, when that process is viewed alongside dozens of similar policyholder experiences, the court will quickly determine whether Southern Response has been maintaining a deliberate strategy to minimise policyholder’s claim entitlements.

Of course, the vast majority of citizens cannot afford litigation to force the insurer to give them their fair entitlements under their policies and clearly, Southern Response is aware of this. Therefore, the class action remains the biggest threat to achievement of its strategic objectives, as it’s the only means by which most policyholders will secure access to justice and a fair determination of their claims.

Very shortly, the Court will approve the form of letter that can soon be provided to the many hundreds of unsettled claimants who haven’t been able to negotiate fair settlements on their own and who may now need to seriously consider joining the class action. In issuing an Opt-in Order, such claimants have been granted the opportunity by the Court to join the action, no later than 16 April 2017.

All those who wish to register their interest, should email sarah.simmonds@gcalawyers.com or phone the earthquake insurance litigation team at 03 365 1347.

Tags Southern Response Southern Response Class Action GCA Lawyers Delay Grant Cameron Gendall High Court Earthquake Insurance litigation