Queensland 2011 Floods Class Action

Maurice Blackburn will be filing a class action in early 2014 seeking compensation for financial loss and damage caused by the negligent operation of Wivenhoe and Somerset dams during the January 2011 flood in South East Queensland.

The action will be funded by litigation funder, Bentham IMF Limited (formerly IMF Australia).

Registrations extended to 11 April 2014 

How do I register for the class action?

If you are a person or business affected by the January 2011 flood, and would like to register with us, visit www.imf.com.au/wivenhoe or call 1800 016 464.

Registration is free and without obligation. You are not retaining Maurice Blackburn as your lawyer by registering.

We will contact you upon receiving your completed registration form to invite you to retain us as your lawyers with respect to your individual claim.

You will need to retain us as your lawyers and enter into a litigation funding agreement with Bentham IMF Limited before 11 April 2014 in order to be represented in the class action.

What is the class action about?

The class action will allege that the negligent operation of the Wivenhoe and Somerset dams in the lead up to and during the 2011 flood significantly contributed to the extent and the level of flooding downstream of the dams and created a flood that was much worse than it would have been if the dams had been operated competently.

The Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry

The Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry was established on 17 January 2011 to examine the events surrounding the 2010/2011 flood events in South East Queensland.

Maurice Blackburn played an important role in the Inquiry by representing residents of the community of Fernvale, which is located just below the Wivenhoe Dam.

On 16 March 2012, the Commission delivered its final report. It found that Wivenhoe Dam had been operated in breach of the manual that governs its operation.

Crucially, it was found that the dam operators had failed to use rainfall forecasts in making decisions about dam operating strategies. The Inquiry was also critical of the process by which strategies were selected.

Who is the class action against?

The class action is being brought in negligence, against Seqwater, Sunwater and the State of Queensland. As the owner and operator of Wivenhoe and Somerset Dams, they had a duty to operate the dams competently in order to minimise the impact of dam releases downstream.

How were the dam operators negligent?

The action will allege that the dam operators were negligent in, among other things:

  • failing to use rainfall forecasts in making decisions about operating strategies, and
  • failing to preserve a reasonable amount of the dams' storage capacity in order to provide optimum protection of urbanised areas from inundation.

This negligent conduct, in addition to other conduct, contributed significantly to the downstream flooding experienced in Brisbane and Ipswich.

How will the class action work?

Class actions are generally brought by multiple people against the same defendant, where each person's claim arises out of the same or related circumstances.

How much will it cost to be part of the class action?

The class action will be run on a no win - no fee basis. This means that you will not have to pay any fees unless the case is won. You cannot be ordered to pay the other side's costs if the action is unsuccessful.

All costs and risk will be fully underwritten by Bentham IMF Limited. There are no out of pocket costs or risks to you.

If the action is successful, the costs of the proceedings, which will include expert evidence fees, legal costs and interest, will be shared across the class.

If the case is won, Bentham IMF Limited will be paid from the net settlement or judgment proceeds (that is after payment of costs). Bentham IMF Limited will receive up to 30 per cent of the net settlement or judgment proceeds.

The details of the costs and funding arrangements are set out in full in our Retainer and in Bentham IMF Limited's litigation funding agreement which you will receive and have the opportunity to consider before committing to anything.

About Bentham IMF Limited

Bentham IMF Limited is the largest and most successful litigation funder in Australia, having collected over $1.2 billion for clients. It is the first litigation funder to be listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) and has successfully sued the Commonwealth and the States in previous class actions. Together Bentham IMF Limited and Maurice Blackburn have been involved in the largest class action settlements in Australia.

What sort of damages can be awarded?

The class action will be seeking damages for our clients for economic loss. The amount of damages will vary from person to person depending upon their individual circumstances.

The types of damages that can be claimed are as follows:

  • Damage caused to business, home, furniture or possessions
  • Financial loss caused as a result of business interruption during and after the flood
  • Costs associated with temporary relocation during flood repairs
  • Costs associated with rebuilding, cleaning or repairing flood damage, and
  • Costs associated with replacing lost or irreparably damaged possessions.

What sorts of damages are not being claimed?

The types of damages that we will not be claiming for are as follows:

  • Personal injury, or
  • Psychological harm.

If you wish to make a claim for damages for personal injury or psychological harm, you should seek urgent legal advice from another lawyer as strict time limits apply.

Who can join the class action?

The class action will be brought on behalf of people who suffered loss or damage as a result of inundation by water in areas downstream of Wivenhoe Dam in the period between 9 and 24 January 2011.

The action is open to anyone who has entered into a litigation funding agreement with Bentham IMF Limited and:

  • leased, owned or otherwise held interest in property that was inundated with water and suffered loss or damage as a result of the inundation, or
  • held an interest in land that was inundated with water and whose use or enjoyment of the land was interfered with as a result of the inundation, or
  • owned personal property that was damaged by flood water, or
  • regularly conducted a business in an area that was inundated with water and suffered economic loss as a result of the inundation.

How do I find out more about the class action?

To find out more about the class action, visit www.imf.com.au/wivenhoe or call 1800 016 464.