Black Saturday Bushfire class actions

Update on Taxation Dispute

On 28 February 2019, the Court handed down a decision which held that the Scheme Administrator is not entitled to deduct the costs incurred by the Settlement Distribution Scheme (Scheme) from the interest which was earned on the settlement monies, in calculating the taxable income of the Scheme.

On 22 August 2019, the appeal hearing was heard before the Full Court of the Federal Court. The Full Court will now make a ruling on the taxation issue.

Once the Full Court has made a decision, we will need to consider the implications for group members in both the Kilmore and Murrindindi matters. It is anticipated that a ruling will not be delivered until later this year.

If an appeal was to be successful, it would likely have the effect that the Scheme Administrator could make a further distribution to claimants, rather than paying that money to the ATO.

For further information on the taxation dispute and decision of the Federal Court of Australia please refer to:

  • Reasons for Judgment 
  • Section G in the ‘Final report into the Bushfires class actions Settlement Administration‘ linked below  

Final report into the Bushfire class actions Settlement Administration

The Settlement Administration of the Kilmore East – Kinglake & Murrindindi – Marysville Black Saturday Class Actions is now substantially completed. The primary outstanding issue to be resolved is a dispute as to the taxation of the settlement monies, which has proceeded to litigation in the Federal Court of Australia.

The Settlement Administration has been overseen by the Supreme Court of Victoria and the Scheme Administrator has provided regular updates to the Court by attending case management hearings and filing written materials containing information about the Settlement Administration and its progress.

So that group members have access to a single, comprehensive analysis as to the operation of the Settlement Administration, Maurice Blackburn has prepared a Final Report into the Black Saturday Bushfire Class Actions Settlement Administration and filed it with the Supreme Court of Victoria.

Read the Final Report, the related Deloitte Access Economics Report and the ALCG Report:

The costs of the preparation of the Final Report were borne entirely by Maurice Blackburn and have not been passed on to group members in either of the Kilmore-East Kinglake or Murrindindi Bushfire class actions.

These documents have also been published on the website of the Supreme Court of the Victoria.

About the Bushfires class actions

All payments to members of the Black Saturday Bushfire class actions have been finalised. Nearly $700 million in compensation was distributed in December 2016 and February 2017.

Distribution of compensation to the economic loss and property damage (ELPD) group members occurred in February 2017.

Prior to Christmas 2016, compensation was paid to over 1,770 of the personal injury group members from the Black Saturday Bushfire class actions.

Maurice Blackburn is continuing to work with its tax advisors and the ATO to attempt to resolve issues relating to interest earned on the Distribution Sum and the deductibility of administration costs. Depending on the outcome of negotiations with the ATO regarding the tax treatment of interest on the settlement sum, there may be a second settlement distribution to group members at a later date in the future.

The actions

The Kilmore East/Kinglake class action encompasses the area burnt including Kilmore East, Kinglake, Strathewen, Steels Creek and other towns.

The Murrindindi/Marysville class action encompasses the area burnt including Murrindindi, Narbethong, Marysville, Buxton, Taggerty.  

More information

Kilmore East/Kinglake Bushfire Class Action

Murrindindi/Marysville Bushfire Class Action