Red Alert

A glimmer of hope for leaky home owners

Posted by on November 21st, 2012

The Law Commission’s announcement today that it will revisit the ‘joint and several’ liability issue is to be welcomed, because it could have spin-offs for leaky home victims that are still being denied full compensation.

 The existing principle of ‘joint and several’ liability means where two or more people are liable for the same loss, then each defendant will be potentially liable for the whole of the loss.

 This principle has become very contentious, particularly where defendants in leaky homes cases argue they will only accept liability for their portion of the losses, and this seriously delays or stalls the whole process.

 So the Law Commission’s issues paper – discussing and calling for submissions on its Review of Joint and Several Liability – could be a trigger to get things moving – although it is unclear whether it applies retrospectively, which is a different matter.

We already know about the existing  ‘log-jam’ in settlements with the Financial Assistance Package. There have been reports that although 1232 owners had lodged expressions of interest by the end of September, only 35 claims were proceeding thus far and only 12 had received their final payments.

 The Law Commission is now seeking views on the options for reforming the system of liability, and also for the advantages of the status quo. The closing date for submissions is Thursday 31 January 2013. This media release and a copy of the publication is available from the Law Commission website at http://www.lawcom.govt.nz/project/review-joint-and-several-liability

 


3 Responses to “A glimmer of hope for leaky home owners”

  1. jennifer says:

    How is this a “glimmer of hope” for owners of leaky homes? It simply means that if they are to secure compensation from the builders and others who conveniently declared bankruptcy and shuffled off to the Gold Coast, they must spend a fortune tracking them down and suing them. The ‘last man standing’ will have gone, along with them.

  2. bbfloyd says:

    @jenn… I would assume that what is being talked about is a method to stop the situation you cite from derailing the process… That really wasn’t that hard to spot…

    maybe you should be carping at johnny sparkles as to why his raiding party has played “helpless” while thousands of peoples lives have been severely affected by what was a stupid, short sighted peice of legislation, passed by his party, for no better reason than it allowed open slather profiteering..

    Not to mention the negative effects on the level of competence their attacks on workers rights, conditions, and their ability to earn a wage that allows them to spend a useful amount of time with their own families….

    Not to mention, as well, the negative effect on the wider communities of the drop in circulation of the cash that was helping to keep local communities floating…

    So no surprise that the tories wouldn’t want a real solution to emerge, as they then may have to accept publically just how damaging this peice of idiocy has been…

    And no surprises that they would adopt a “we can’t do anything” approach, as to actually make moves toward setting up a framework that would offer true redress would cost them millions in sponsorship….

    Being deliberately narrow, and feigning naivete says more about you than any real attemt to add to the discussion…

  3. jpwood says:

    @ bbfloyd

    It is quite clear you (and Raymond) do not understand joint and several liability.

    At present if a builder, architect, property developer, council and plasterer are each a cause of all an owner’s loss, any one, or any combination of them, may be sued for all of that loss. The owner does not have to worry about how much potency there was in each of the potential defendants’ involvement, and how difficult it will be to collect to each of the defendants. If the builder is dead, the property developer unlocatable, the plasterer insolvent and the architect of limited financial means the rational owner only needs to sue the council.

    As jennifer correctly identified above, moving to a proportional liability regime will mean that in every case the relative potency of the defendant’s will be a live issue in every case and one the plaintiff will need to expend resources on. In the above example even if only the architect and council were sued the relative fault of the non parties involved in the construction would be an issue. The plaintiff will be trying to argue to expand the liability on the council and architect and they in turn would be arguing the opposite.

    Ultimately, in most cases, the owner’s task will be compounded by their inability to call witnesses of fact (ie the people who actually were on site) without the co-operation of the defendants. The result in most cases (in a pure form of proportionate liability) the council will pay 15 to 25 per cent and the owner will not recover any further sum.