06 November 2014

Brisbane flood claim bogged down in legal argument by state entities

A torrent of water is released from the
Wivenhoe Dam into the Brisbane River
 after flooding rains in January 2011
A LEGAL battle over the validity of the Wivenhoe Dam class action will resume in a Sydney court this morning as the Queensland Government pursues its attempts to have the case dismissed.

If successful, the massive class action, representing more than 4000 victims of the 2011 January floods in the state’s southeast, could reap hundreds of millions of dollars for claimants.

But the State Government has tried to have the matter dismissed before evidence is heard, alleging a lack of detail in the claim brought by Maurice Blackburn lawyers and backed by litigation funder IMF.

Seqwater, which had control of Wivenhoe during the floods, is defending the claims that dam engineers followed a flawed strategy that led to much of the flooding.

Chief Executive Officer Peter Dennis said the application to throw the matter out was related to a lack of specifics in the claim.

Seqwater had expected the class action to contain evidence from international experts outlining an alternative water-release strategy that would have better protected householders.

“There is no reference to this modelling in the current claim,” Mr Dennis said.

Maurice Blackburn principal Damian Scattini was last night confident the class action would go ahead.

He described the Government’s tactics as typical of the legal skirmishes accompanying such cases.

“Applications such as this are routine in class actions,” Mr Scattini said.

“Usually, there are many applications by both sides along the way. Whatever happens, the class action will continue and our clients will get their day in court.”