Auckland litigation firm Adina Thorn Lawyers has been contacting the owners of recently-built properties in Canterbury in a bid to ascertain interest for a potential class action lawsuit.
The firm has sent out around 2,000 letters after it identified properties built since 2012 on concrete floors reinforced with steel mesh that has been flagged by the Commerce Commission as potentially sub-standard, Fairfax Media
Thorn said the addresses contacted were based on territorial authority records of building consents and Christchurch City Council consent issues.
“Not every person that gets the letter will in fact have defective steel, but some of them will,” Thorn said in the report.
The letter also stated that a guilty verdict would be unlikely to mean financial compensation for homeowners.
“We’re just saying register if you’ve got an interest in this and we would take it from there,” Thorn said.
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“We look at the viability owner by owner… We carry out a process to work out what the steel is and the merits of that claim.”
Thorn has said previously that over 100 Kiwi homeowners had already signed up for the legal action
There were fears that the legal action could invalidate homeowners’ insurance in New Zealand and while insurers acknowledged the mesh was being treated as an ‘emerging issue’ its representative body took steps to reassure policyholders.
Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) CEO Tim Grafton said that even if houses had been built using faulty products it did not necessarily mean they had not met the Building Code.
“This is because a number of factors will be assessed when determining the overall resilience of a house,” Grafton said.
“In March, MBIE advised Building Consent authorities that, in its view, if a house has obtained a Code of Compliance Certificate from them there is no need to take any action because the house will still meet the structural (as well as the life safety) requirements of the Building Code.”
Steel and Tube is one of three companies being prosecuted by the Commerce Commission under the Fair Trading Act.
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