5 Decmber 2016
Commerce Commission's decision seen as supporting steel class action

Adina Thorn, who is leading the proposed steel class action against suppliers of non-complying steel mesh used in building foundations and driveways, says today's announcement by the Commerce Commission was expected, and is consistent with the view that much of the steel mesh sold seems to be non-compliant.

The Commission is likely to seek that fines be ordered against these companies, but this is very unlikely to result in monetary compensation for affected building owners.

"The Commerce Commissionís decision supports bringing this class action. This is an incredibly serious issue, and litigation will provide an opportunity for owners to seek compensation for non-complying steel mesh. The Commissionís testing suggests that a lot of this mesh does not meet the standards for seismic events. It goes without saying that this could have dire consequences."

"The fact that the Commission intends to proceed with criminal charges against three companies is an indication of the scale of the problem in New Zealand, which as recent events have shown, is very subject to seismic activity.

"The reality is that a prosecution can result in the companies being fined, but it is unlikely to compensate building owners, who will be hit by the losses in value that come from owning a building made of non-compliant materials.

Anybody who had a building built in the last 4 years is urged to register interest for free at www.steelclassaction.co.nz where they will be asked to fill in a simple non-obligation form that will be evaluated to see if they are eligible to be part of the class action. The class action would be fully funded and the owners would have no "out of pocket" expenses.

"We are having a steady level of response to our work on a funded steel mesh class action, details of which are on our website."

Adina says the issue emerged in March this year when it was revealed that hundreds of thousands of non-complying steel mesh sheets had been supplied to builders from mid-2012.

Adina Thorn Lawyers is also leading the $250 million plus funded "faulty cladding" action against the James Hardie Group of companies. This separate action involves more than 1,000 property owners who have suffered losses and health issues arising from the use of non-performing cladding materials. In a funded action those joining it face none of the normal "out of pocket" expenses involved in bringing an action before the courts.

 


31 August 2016
Steel mesh suppliers facing Class Action threat
Funded claim likely against NZX-listed Steel and Tube

Construction and building litigation specialists Adina Thorn Lawyers today invited registrations of interest for what is expected to be a fully-funded class action on behalf of building owners whose properties have been built in the past 4 years with steel reinforcing mesh that does not meet earthquake standards.

Adina Thorn, Principal of the firm, says the current Commerce Commission investigation may result in fines for the companies that have supplied the non-complying mesh, but this will not likely deliver any financial reinstatement for the owners of affected buildings.

"This is a problem because, in the advent of a natural disaster, the use of non-complying steel mesh could compromise insurance claims, pose a risk to life and cause widespread financial losses. Its existence could also affect the future and present market value of the buildings concerned."

She says the issue emerged in March this year when it was revealed that hundreds of thousands of non-complying steel mesh sheets had been supplied to builders throughout New Zealand from mid-2012.

The Ministry then said it was investigating companies that had supplied steel reinforcing mesh to builders and construction firms that did not meet the grade 500E requirement, which relates to the ductility or flexibility of the steel concerned.

One supplier, NZX-Listed New Zealand Steel and Tube Holdings Ltd, is being investigated by the Commerce Commission for making claims that its products had been certified as complying with standard 500E by using the logo of an independent testing laboratory, which had in fact not tested or certified the product.

Adina Thorn says a number of companies in addition to Steel and Tube may be named in the proposed class action.

She says the proposed class action is to be funded by the Harbour fund in the Cayman Islands that is advised by Harbour Litigation Funding. Harbour Litigation Funding is the UKís largest litigation funding advisor. Harbour is also funding the current $250 million class action against the James Hardie group of companies in respect of plaster cladding products. This action is also being led by Adina Thorn Lawyers.

The existence of funding means owners of affected buildings can join the class action without incurring any out-of-pocket expenses, as Harbour will cover legal, expert, research, litigation, communication and administration costs, in return for a share of any proceeds recovered in the action.

The class action will proceed if there is sufficient interest from owners with viable claims.