Chapman Tripp has represented EQC in a High Court case that has helped to clarify the settlement process for around 13,500 Canterbury land claims.
The High Court ruled that two forms of complex land damage arising out of the Canterbury earthquakes - increased flooding vulnerability and increased liquefaction vulnerability - were properly recognised as natural disaster damage under the Earthquake Commission Act 1993. The Court also ruled that EQC’s proposed policy for making settlement payments for increased flooding vulnerability based on the decrease in property value associated with damage, rather than on the cost of repairing the damage, in appropriate cases was lawful.
The case is significant because it is the first time that these forms of land damage have been recognised in New Zealand or internationally. It is also the first occasion on which payment based on loss of value has been recognised as an appropriate form of settlement under the Earthquake Commission Act.
The Chapman Tripp team, which includes partners Jack Hodder QC, Bruce Scott and John Knight and Senior Associate Tim Smith, has worked closely with EQC since the Canterbury Earthquakes and was involved in developing the land claim policy that was tested in the case.
Bruce Scott said: “We are delighted that EQC got the result they needed to move forward and settle claims for the large number of properties potentially affected by increased flooding vulnerability.
“This was a novel and complex case that has helped to set a new legal precedent. In addition to its impact on EQC, the outcome has significant implications for thousands of Canterbury land owners and for private insurers.”