Discussion timeline

EQC and EQC Action Group: timeline of discussions and resolution

Towards the end of 2013 the law firm, Anthony Harper, put out a media release proposing to file a group action against EQC. Three months later it said it had signed up 120 homeowners, collectively known as the ‘EQC Action Group’, and asked EQC for their individual claim files.

EQC asks for a meeting

EQC responded by letter that Anthony Harper had neither shared its clients’ concerns nor communicated the basis for the proposed legal action. EQC also offered to have a meeting with Anthony Harper to discuss these matters in greater detail.

Over the next year EQC responded to a series of OIA requests from Anthony Harper that focussed predominantly on EQC’s repair obligations under the EQC Act..

Anthony Harper prepares to file a group action

A story appeared in The Press in August 2015 confirming that Anthony Harper was about to file a group action on behalf of 110 homeowners ‘to tackle EQC’s scoping practices and MBIE’s guidelines head-on’. A couple of weeks later EQC received a letter setting out the declarations sought by the Action Group, saying the letter was an attempt to avoid commencing a legal proceeding against EQC.

EQC responded it was the first time in 18 months of engagement with Anthony Harper that it had seen the proposed declarations and that it still had little information about why each of its clients wanted to begin a legal proceeding. EQC’s preferred approach, it reiterated, was to engage with Anthony Harper to resolve its clients’ individual claims.

.EQC requests information

A month later, at the end of October, EQC again asked Anthony Harper for information about specific issues concerning the group members. The following month, however, Anthony Harper filed proceedings on behalf of the Action Group in the Christchurch High Court.

In December 2015, EQC informed the High Court that Anthony Harper had still not provided it with details of its clients’ individual concerns. It again invited them to do this, saying that once the focus was on individual claims the issues could be resolved without the need for litigation.

Out of court discussions begin

At a teleconference with a Judge a few days later, EQC told the Court that it considered the claim was inappropriate to go to a hearing.  EQC signalled that it intended to apply to “strike out” the proceeding (i.e. have the claim thrown out) if the parties could not agree on a way forward.  The two parties then engaged in constructive out-of-court discussions. There was no legal requirement for EQC to enter into discussions with the lawyers for the Action Group.  EQC did so in good faith in an effort to avoid both sides incurring significant costs associated with proceeding to trial.  

It was immediately apparent that there was no material disagreement between the parties on the issues now set out in the joint statement and from mid December 2015, EQC and the Action Group worked towards agreeing a form of joint statement that responded to the concerns raised by the EQC Action Group.

Settlement agreement signed

The Action Group and EQC signed a settlement agreement, and a joint statement was made public on 28 April. Both parties agree EQC’s insurance cover for any earthquake damage is subject to all of the provisions of the Earthquake Commission Act 1993. This has always been EQC’s position..

EQC review process

Any customer can use EQC’s standard processes to request a review of their individual claim if they believe EQC has missed earthquake damage to their home, if they don’t agree with the repair strategy EQC has proposed, or if they believe the settlement amount isn’t correct.

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