IMF and Maurice Blackburn announce further details of floods legal action
6 February 2012
Australia's largest litigation funder IMF has confirmed today that it will widen its own investigations into the causes of the January 2011 flood event in South East Queensland.
Announcing the company's plans today in Brisbane John Walker, IMF executive director said further investigations were now warranted and that Maurice Blackburn lawyers would be working with IMF on the case.
"The current inquiry paid for by the State of Queensland is not designed to identify all the detail about what the Wivenhoe Dam operators ought to have done throughout the January 2011 flood event, whether their conduct breached any legals standard and if so, who downstream from the dam suffered compensable loss," said Mr Walker.
"The inquiry will only identify a part of the truth. Communities downstream from the Wivenhoe Dam are entitled to know whether it was operated negligently and, if so, whether they suffered unnecessary loss and damage that is compensable by the State. If sufficient flood victims wish to take collective action, IMF will fund the investigation and any viable legal proceedings.
"IMF will fund class action law firm Maurice Blackburn which has been representing the interests of flood victims at the Floods Commission."
Maurice Blackburn principal Peter Koutsoukis said: "We know people downstream from the Wivenhoe Dam are still struggling to cope with the floods crisis and we need them to tell us how they were affected and the scale of their losses so that we can assess their compensation needs."
"The investigations will take several months to complete. It may be that any claim will proceed as a representative claim or test case rather than as a class action. This will be decided after the investigations have been completed," said Mr Koutsoukis.
Mr Walker said expert opinion was needed to answer questions relating to duty of care, breach and causation.
"Areas of investigation will include whether the State of Queensland, Seqwater, SunWater or the flood operations engineers breached any duty of care to people living below the dam, including whether engineers could have released greater amounts of water earlier in the flood event thereby reducing peak release rates and peak flood levels."
"IMF's experience of resourcing claims against Commonwealth and State Governments, will, together with subsequent legal proceedings, require risk capital in the millions of dollars," said Mr Walker.