The Court of Appeal has today released its decision in the Southern Response Double DRA case and found in favour of homeowners Karl and Alison Dodds.
In August 2019, Justice Gendall found in favour of the Dodds, saying Southern Response had engaged in “false, misleading and deceptive conduct” resulting in the couple receiving a much lower insurance payment than they were entitled to. However, the Government supported Southern Response, following Crown Law advice, to go to the Court of Appeal, to obtain “greater clarity”. The appeal was filed late last year.
Karl Dodds was still reading through the decision this afternoon but says despite a small mathematical error that saw a $10,000 reduction in the amount SR will pay them, he understands that the decision is entirely in their favour.
“The original decision made by Justice Gendall last year has been upheld in its entirety. The Court of Appeal has agreed that SRs representations were false and misleading. We are hoping Southern Response doesn’t appeal this decision and to be frank, we can’t see how they could,” he says.
That’s a position their lawyer Peter Woods from Anthony Harper agrees with.
“Of course there’s always a chance Southern Response will try to appeal but the Court of Appeal's decision is abundantly clear, and there is no need for further clarity. Additionally, I doubt that there are grounds to justify an appeal, as the facts and law in this case are straight-forward," says Woods.
Estimates put the number of claims affected by this decision today, between 1600 and 3000 claims therefore the financial impact on Southern Response will be considerable.
“Based on the amounts we are seeing in the misrepresentations made to homeowners when they settled with SR, this could cost SR as much as $675m. I would strongly recommend that anyone whose house was destroyed by the earthquakes, to get some advice from their lawyer,” he says.
Karl Dodds says he and his wife Alison want to see an inquiry into Southern Response as it’s clear their behaviour is far from acceptable.
“What else have they been doing for the last 8-9 years? We already knew about the spies, now this appalling misleading behaviour, what else is there?” he says. “The Government should be able to confidently say that they can stand behind their own insurer but without shining the light into all the cracks and crevices, I don’t think they can do that.”
The decision today will see the Dodds receive $250,000 in damages which includes $200,000 for earthquake damage they were not compensated for, plus interest. All legal costs have been recovered from Southern Response and the Government agreed to cover the appeal costs.