Flood victims trigger calls for class actions in Queensland
A COMPENSATION lawyer says there is a pressing need to change state legislation to allow class action lawsuits - such as flood claims - to be filed in Queensland.
Bennett and Philp Lawyers director Mark O'Connor said it was a sad reflection on this state that the 4000 Brisbane and Ipswich residents and businesses claiming damages from the Queensland government and water agencies Seqwater and Sunwater for the 2011 floods had to be filed in the New South Wales Supreme Court last week.
APN understands the Newman Government is considering whether to introduce legislation to allow class actions to be heard in Queensland.
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said he was always happy to consider "any suggestions that would make access to justice fairer and easier".
"I am consulting with the legal community about what improvements can be made," he said.
The flood action argues much of the flood damage was preventable or would have been significantly less if dam engineers had better managed Wivenhoe and Somerset dam releases.
No specific dollar figures have been linked to what is believed to be Australia's largest class action but media reports have estimated it at between $1 billion and $2 billion.
Mr O'Connor said sending that case to NSW denied Queensland the economic benefits - millions of dollars - of running such actions here.
"The cost of running the action will run into the millions including the cost of the employment of secretaries, clerks, other administration staff and legal counsel and witnesses, air fares and accommodation, meals and so on," he said.
"This is not about encouraging class action suits because they are expensive to run, but the way the law now stands, it discriminates against any Queensland- based firm running an action because the system favours only nationally- based firms."
Mr O'Connor said the current law also meant Queensland's courts and judges were denied the opportunity to consider significant and complex legal issues within their own state.
"A sophisticated and expensive new courts complex has been constructed in Brisbane with state of the art court technology but the revenue which significant legal actions could bring to Queensland is lost because we can't file a class action suit here," he said.