4 April 2023
Legal Advisory Group meeting minutes from 4 April 2023.
Miriam Dean (Chair), John Hardie (Advisor, Internal Disputes Resolution), Hugh Matthews (Independent Lawyer), Edward Butler (Solicitor, MBIE), Paul Kirby and Tiffany Matsis (Engineering New Zealand)
Darren Wright (Director, NZCRS), Kirsty Hamilton (Principal Advisor, NZCRS), Emily Walton (Lawyer, observer)
Aidan Prebble (Community Law)
Conflicts of interest
- No new conflicts of interest were declared.
- The Chair noted that Nicola Wills had been appointed to the District Court bench and so would no longer sit on this group. The Chair noted further that with Emily’s expertise and nationwide practice she was potentially a good candidate to join the group at this critical juncture with the change from the GCCRS to NZCRS.
- The Director spoke to his Directors Report, noting that the April 2023 report would be circulated at a later date. Discussion followed.
- As to the increase in Toka Tū Ake EQC matters, the Director noted that NZCRS is encouraging staff and homeowners to access IDRS, CEIT and the Toka Tū Ake EQC Claims Clinics to help resolve outstanding claims and hopefully this would see a reduction in the number of claims.
- Staffing-related issues were discussed, noting that a NZCRS Case Manager Resolution had been appointed, focussed on the resolution of Canterbury earthquake claims. There will be a strong focus in coming months on quality assurance across the response to all weather‑related events.
- Dependent upon funding, NZCRS is looking to recruit more staff and the next phase of marketing of the new service will commence shortly. The Director noted this may not prove easy in a very competitive market and with insurers also looking for staff.
- The varied settlement approach to on-sold properties with Toka Tū Ake EQC was discussed.
- The Director updated the group on the launch of the NZCRS. The response to date from all quarters to the new service was pleasing with NZCRS currently assisting in 14 of New Zealand’s 16 regions with weather-related events.
- The determination service was discussed at length and what changes might need to be made with the transition to a national service. Issues of appointments, confidentiality, appeals and other relevant matters were noted and discussed.
- The group agreed that the end objective would hopefully be for its IRDS scheme to be one of the approved schemes for the Natural Hazards Insurance Act, due to come into force 1 July 2024. In the interim, both mediation and determination services remain currently available for homeowners with Canterbury Earthquake Sequence claims.
- The Director and John Hardie reported to the group on their recent informal meeting with the Minister, noting he had encouraged NZCRS to discuss a future NZCRS determination service directly with insurers.
- The Director reported on a recent constructive informal meeting with insurers, noting their requests to choose the mediator or decision maker and for costs to be shared by the parties. There was general consensus among the group that while mediators might be appointed by agreement (but still to be the subject of future consultation with insurers, homeowners and others) decision makers should be appointed by the NZCRS.
- Processes for appointment to the mediators and decision makers panels were discussed and the preliminary view was that, subject to some refinements, the current processes for appointment of mediators should continue and, indeed NZCRS – rather than MBIE – managed processes was important from an independence perspective for homeowners. It was agreed that decision makers should continue to be appointed by the Minister.
- The group discussed how NZCRS‘s IRDS would work with IFSO, FSCL and the CEIT with general agreement there was merit in a ‘no one size fits all’ approach. Each is complementary.
- Private insurers’ concerns about participating in IRDS as Toka Tū Ake EQC’s agents were tabled and the potential conflict of interest between a land claim and a foundation issue. Specifically, when there is a potential conflict between the works required for the land settlement and the related foundation damage.
- The group discussed the need for a targeted consultation process with all interested participants and the need for a timeline as to how, and when, this would take place. The group noted the need for the IRDS service to be finalised by December 2023, giving time for the service to be fully operational by June 2024.
- The letter received (21 December 2022) from the Minister’s Office was discussed and the group agreed a short response should be provided, following on from the recent meeting noted above. The Chair asked to see a draft of the letter which is to be written by MBIE’s Hayley Means.
Engineering NZ update
- An update was provided on engineering related matters, including an expansion of the panel (so as to be nationally based).
- Letters of engagement templates for engineers were discussed. Engineering New Zealand thanked Emily for her assistance with the drafts and Emily offered to conduct a secondary review.
- Expressions of interest were requested from the group for Engineering NZ’s cross‑stakeholder evaluation panel.
Review of agenda
- The next Legal Advisory Group meeting date is scheduled for 1 August 2023.
Previous meeting minutes
Meeting minutes – 3 October 2022
Meeting minutes – 8 June 2022
Meeting minutes - 22 March 2022
Meeting minutes - 13 December 2021
Meeting minutes - 21 September 2021
Meeting minutes - 6 July 2021
Meeting minutes - 4 May 2021
Meeting minutes - 2 March 2021
Meeting minutes - 8 December 2020
Meeting minutes - 8 September 2020
Meeting minutes - 7 July 2020
Meeting minutes – 27 February 2020
Meeting minutes - 6 December 2019
Meeting minutes - 22 October 2019
Meeting minutes – 12 April 2019
Meeting minutes - 7 June 2019
Meeting minutes – 9 August 2019
Meeting minutes - 8 February 2019
Meeting minutes – 29 November 2018